Last night and before dawn this morning the Earth is passing through the thickest debris of asteroid 3200 Phaethon, a large chunk of rock that broke up and hangs in space. Every year at this time our planet moves through the rubble and our gravity pulls some of the rock chunks into the atmosphere. With great velocity the rocky bits speed through our air, heating with the friction of rubbing against all that nitrogen and oxygen until they melt and burn in a few spectacular milliseconds of blazing glory.
Late last night we went out in the bone chattering cold to spot shooting stars. At the rate of about one per minute a flash would fire up in some section of the northeastern sky. Our vantage on the top of a hill in the dark countryside makes for excellent sky viewing. This morning when I rose at around 4:30, I watched from the second story eastern window. Again bright streaks traveled the sky nearly once a minute.
Thus our spinning, space-traveling habitat clears the asteroid debris for another year, pulling in a few more pounds of rock to add to our bulk and delighting the sky viewers.
Read more about the Geminids http://www.space.com/23953-geminid-meteor-shower-peak-webcasts.html