Why the Perseid Meteor Shower Blazes Through the Sky Every Summer

Perseid Meteor Shower 2018

The Perseids meteor shower occurs around mid-August.

On Sunday night (Aug. 12) and into early Monday morning (Aug. 13), Earth will push through the densest band of the Swift-Tuttle debris cloud that our planet has access to.

While a falling meteorite can be seen any night of the year, it's this weekend when the sky puts on a show as the Earth passes through the stream of the comet.

If people know where Cassiopeia - a W-shaped constellation in the northeast sky - is located, they can find the Perseid meteors just below it beginning about 11 p.m. Saturday night.

A glorious display of Perseid meteors is set to light up the skies over the United Kingdom on Sunday night.

One of the best meteor showers of the year peaks this weekend, and with any luck, you should be able to catch at least a few of the shooting stars for yourself.

Although we won't see the comet itself, we will still witness the trail of debris left by it.

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"It will be a crescent, which means it will set before the Perseid show gets underway after midnight", NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com.

The meteor shower is made up of particles that crumbled away from the 26 kilometre (16 mile) wide comet as it zooms in and out of the inner Solar System. The best views will come before dawn on the 13th, Astronomymagazine predicts.

With a new moon providing an extra-dark backdrop to the spectacle, the shooting stars will be brighter than ever.

This year's show is predicted to be an "average" show by Perseid standards, with as many as 50-60 meteors per hour at peak.

Last year's shower was especially active, delivering up to 150 meteors an hour expected at its height, and while this year the shooting stars won't be quite as regular, stargazers can still expect to see around 70 of them an hour. For these extra sparkly Perseid years, you can thank one of our obtrusive cosmic neighbors: Jupiter.

If you're unable to see the Perseids this year in person, you can always watch them online. And if you're intrepid enough to travel to a dark sky park, here are some of the absolute best in the United States.

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