How to see New Zealand's best meteor shower of the year

NZ 13/12/2017

Stay tuned and get ready to stay up late - one of the finest meteor showers of the year is lighting up the sky on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The Geminid meteors are making their annual appearance, just in time for Christmas.

Astronomers consider it to be the most beautiful meteor shower, with more than 100 meteors streaking through the night sky every hour.

The best time to see it is between midnight and moonrise, a Stardome Observatory spokesperson told Newshub. Moonrise is the time the moon rises - around 3:30am on Thursday. Sunrise on Thursday is about 6am.

"It's best to be in a place where there's no city lights," they said. "Although people in the city should be able to see a few."

The Geminids are actually rocky celestial leftovers. Every December, Earth passes through this stream of debris from 3200 Phaethon - once believed to be an asteroid and now considered an extinct, or iceless, comet.

The meteors, or shooting stars, can appear anywhere, but always seem to fall from the Gemini constellation, thus their name.

They'll come from the north - and it's best to make sure the weather co-operates before staying up late.

"What you'll see is streaks of light just to the right of the constellation of Orion," Stardome says.

"Stay warm and have a deck chair handy."

If you miss it, don't worry. They'll continue to be visible for another week.