Weather permitting, the Perseid meteor shower promises to be among the most fantastic events of the year, second only to the Geminids around mid-December. And conditions for viewing the meteors will be next to flawless this year.
The Perseid's shooting stars are caused by debris from the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet (Photo: Shutterstock)What are the Perseids? The meteor shower's peak is expected to occur the night of Sunday, Aug. 12 into the wee hours of Monday morning.
The shower's peak will be visible the nights of August 11-12 and August 12-13.
When is the best time to see them?
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Experts offer some tips to get the most out of nature's fireworks: Since Perseid meteors can be seen from any direction in the sky, viewers should pick out a dark patch of sky free of light pollution and wait for the meteors to appear.
In addition, according to The Weather Network, the event is one of only three yearly meteor showers where up to 100 meteors per hour can be seen. Nope! Although the peaks are the best times (as long as there's no moonlight), annual meteor showers typically last weeks, not days... building up gradually and then falling off rapidly.
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 Perseid meteor shower occurs every year when the Earth passes through the dust and debris left behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle, bringing pieces of the comet into the upper atmosphere that light up the sky as they burn up. Find a comfortable spot with as a wide a view of the night sky as possible, preferably away from light pollution, and just relax, lie back and look up.
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If you'd rather watch the Perseid meteor shower from the comfort of your own home, the Virtual Telescope Project is live broadcasting the shower from scenic Castel Santa Maria, Italy, beginning at 4:30 p.m. EST on August 12.
On the odd occasion, however, the shower has been known to exceed all expectations during the peak. The August shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus because the meteors appear to originate there.
The 2018 Orionid meteor shower will be visible from October 2 to November 7 and is expected to peak on the night of Oct. 21-22.
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