Posted at 09:27 AM ET, 12/14/2011

Meteor shower Tuesday gave spectacular light show (video)

The Geminid meteor shower, so named because it appears to radiate from the constellation Gemini, was visible Tuesday night as it is every December, and it was a spectacular display.


A Geminid meteor streaks between peaks of the Seven Sisters rock formation in the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. (Ethan Miller - Getty Images)

During the meteor shower, skygazers could see some 80 to 120 meteors shoot through the sky, believed to be the result of debris fallen from a near-Earth rock comet called 3200 Phaethon.

But as the Christian Science Monitor reports, scientists and meteor watchers aren’t certain where all the material comes from, as 3200 Phaethon “doesn't seem to shed enough rock and dust to account for the shower's intensity.”

The debris gap was identified last year, the Monitor reports, but researchers are still puzzling over it.

NASA astronomer Bill Cooke says the Geminids are his “favorite,” because they “defy explanation.”

While a nearly-full moon Tuesday made some of the meteors more difficult to see, one watcher east of San Jose, Skywardlight, captured this incredible footage of the shower:

 Los Angeles filmmaker Henry Jun Wah Lee captured the shower at Joshua Tree last year:

Fleeting Light: The High Desert and the Geminid Meteor Shower from Henry Jun Wah Lee on Vimeo.

A man in California, keen to find a good vantage point from which to see the shower, accidentally drove his Mustang over a mountain road during his search. He plunged around 100 feet down a hill, but was left with only minor injuries, authorities said.

By  |  09:27 AM ET, 12/14/2011

Tags:  National, Geminid meteor shower, meteor showers, 3200 Phaethon

 
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