During the next few weeks, look up and you can expect to see more than your average number of bright and shimmery shooting stars lighting up the night sky.
The Perseids “are considered the best meteor shower of the year,” according to NASA.
This year’s show began on July 17 and will last until August 26. The peak will be on the night of August 11, running into the early hours of August 12. That’s when the rate of shooting stars will be at its highest, with about 50 meteors per hour.
The extra good news? The moon will be only 13% illuminated on August 11, so if you have clear skies you’ll have an excellent view of all those shooting stars.
You can be anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere to enjoy this show of speed and light. Fine summer weather should make for comfortable viewing too. To best see the starry sight, try to face northeast towards the Perseus constellation.
But just what are you seeing up there? According to Farmer’s Almanac, “Meteors occur when Earth rushes through a stream of dust and debris left behind by a passing comet (the Swift-Tuttle comet, in the case of the Perseids). When the bits strike Earth’s upper atmosphere, friction with the air causes each particle to heat and burn up. We see the result as a meteor.”
P.S. If you’re not able to get out to a place with dark skies to watch the event, check out the Virtual Telescope Project. They’ll be streaming the peak night live, so everyone can enjoy the show.