If you like free light shows, just after midnight tonight go outside and you should be able to see some of the annual Perseid meteor shower, one of the year’s best celestial shows.
Perseids are fast and bright, and are known for leaving long “wakes” of light and color as they streak through the Earth’s atmosphere, according to NASA. And, the Perseids are one of the most plentiful showers with an estimated 50 to 100 meteors seen per hour.
The meteor shower will peak late tonight and early Monday. A crescent moon will set shortly after midnight, leaving dark skies for optimal viewing from late night until dawn, NASA said.
Tonight should be a great night for viewing the meteors, said Bryan Bennett, meteorologist for News Channel 8.
The best time for viewing will be between midnight and 6 a.m., after the moon falls below the horizon and the constellation Perseid rises in the northeast.
The Perseid meteors have been observed for about 2,000 years. The source of the annual meteor shower is the debris trail left behind comet Swift-Tuttle. Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s debris and the bits of ice and dust burn up in our atmosphere where they disintegrate to create fiery and colorful streaks in the sky, NASA said.
NASA recommends finding a place away from city or street lights, lie flat on your back with your feet facing northeast and look up, watching as much of the sky as possible. It will take about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, and you should be able to see the meteors.