Star gazers are in for a treat for the next few nights as the Geminid meteor shower begins Dec. 12.
The shower, which NASA calls the most intense of the year, will peak Dec. 13-14 and last through the 16th.
The astronomical light show can be seen from nearly every point on Earth, NASA says, and the best time to see it is around 1-2 a.m. local time anywhere in the world.
NASA says the 2013 peak rate is between 100-120 meteors per hour.
Most meteor showers come from comets, which spew ample meteoroids for a night of "shooting stars." The Geminid meteor shower is different. The parent is not a comet, but a weird rocky object named 3200 Phaethon that sheds very little dusty debris -- not nearly enough to explain the Geminids.
"The Geminids are my favorite because they defy explanation," said Bill Cooke, lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. "Of all the debris streams Earth passes through every year, the Geminids are by far the most massive. When we add up the amount of dust in the Geminid stream, it outweighs other streams by factors of five to 500."