Perseids Meteor Shower Will Be One Of Year’s Best Sky Shows

METEORS come from the small particles, around the size of a grain of sand, left behind by comets (and some asteroids) as they orbit the sun. Best of all, the slender waxing crescent moon will set at early evening, providing deliciously dark skies for this year's Perseid meteors. This weekend (August 12-13th) marks the peak period to view the Perseids across all of North America.

The Perseids produce the highest number of bright fireball meteors. During that optimum period you could see between 60 and 100 meteors per hour.

The Perseid meteors are actually pieces of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, the largest object known to repeatedly pass by Earth.

What's great about the Perseids is they can be enjoyed during summer's warmth, unlike the often nippy nights during the Leonids of November or Geminids of December. The shower begins to peak on Friday, and the busiest stretch and the best viewing, according to NASA, will be from midnight Sunday through the predawn hours of Monday.

As meteors enter the earth's atmosphere they leave streaks of light in the sky, which some people call shooting stars.

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Although, stargazers in mid-northern latitudes will be privy to the best views, according to NASA, anyone can see the light show. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky so try and find an open area, away from street lights.

You can tell if a meteor is a Perseid by following its direction backwards and, if it's coming from the direction of Perseus, it's a Perseid.

Timeanddate.com provides tables indicating when the showers are active and even gives some nice tips on how to best watch the performance. Jupiter, Saturn and, last but not least, Mars will follow, sweeping in the east at about 11 p.m., 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. respectively.

Meteors streak across the night sky during the Orionid meteor shower on October 23, 2016. That's when the earth will have turned into the meteor stream, which means the show will be just above the horizon line.

This weekend's show is expected to be particularly spectacular.

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