The former is due to the Geminid meteor shower. Although the shower's peak was last night, tonight will provide a wealth of slow-moving shooting stars.
This year's shower happened to coincide with a major explosion on the Sun's surface. The event came from the same active region that we've been highlighting over the past week. The blast, categorized as X-class, is in the same league as the most violent solar flares ever observed. And it was pointed straight at Earth when it went off. An aurora alert is in effect for those located was far south as Oregon, New York, and southern Europe.There's no need to own a telescope or even binoculars. Just bundle up, grab a cup of cocoa and a lawn chair, and enjoy the show!