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Taurid, Leonid, Geminid Meteor Showers Shoot Over Chicago Area

Look to the skies for some stunning light displays this November and December.

As you hang holiday lights and light holiday candles, cast your gaze upon the universe's natural fireworks, as well. 

A thin crescent moon in 2012 will provide for dark nights and early morning light to enhance this year's North Taurid meteor shower display that peaks early Monday, Nov. 12, but some stragglers will appear for several more days, according to EarthSky.org.

To see the showers, look for the moon and Venus in the east.

Space.com reports the best time to see the Taurid meteors, or, "Halloween fireballs," started Nov. 5 and peaks on Monday, as the moon diminishes in brightness each night. 

Ten to 15 yellow-orange meteors may appear per hour each night and appear to move very slowly, according to Space.com.

Astronomers anticipate three meteor showers this November and December. 

Nov. 12: Taurid Meteor Shower

  • The Taurid meteors were expected to peak Nov. 12 in the early morning hours just after midnight, but that doesn't mean a few stragglers won't still shine days after. EarthSky.com reports that this slow-moving, modest shower may yield just 10 meteors per hour. "But even one bright meteor can be a treat, especially since a good percentage of the Taurid meteors tend to produce fireballs!" according to the website. The shower is visible anywhere in the world and will appear to radiate from the Pleiades star cluster.

Nov. 17: Leonid Meteor Shower

  • After years of heavier-than-average showers, the famous Leonids have returned and are expected to peak on Nov. 17 in the pre-dawn hours. These meteors are fast (about 40 miles per second) and can leave trails of smoke, according to Astronomy.com. They will appear to radiate from the constellation Leo the Lion. "Many Leonids are also bright. Usually, the meteors are white or bluish-white, but in recent years some observers reported yellow-pink and copper-colored ones," according to the website

Dec. 13: Geminid Meteor Shower

  • The last shooting star cluster before New Year's is the Geminid Meteor Shower, expected to peak in the pre-dawn hours after midnight between Dec. 13 and Dec. 15. They will be visible in all parts of the sky and streak through the sky at more than 50 meteors per hour, almost a meteor a minute, according to EarthSky.com. The new moon is expected to fall on Dec. 13, making for optimal dark skies—as long as you avoid city lights and clouds, the website states.  

Be sure to schedule a night this season to bundle up, lay out some blankets and enjoy the light show in the sky. 

Share your tips for photographing the showers. Tell us your favorite places to sneak off to view the skies. 

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