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Amateur's Guide to the 2012 Perseid Meteor Shower

Viewers should be able to observe around 80 "shooting stars" per hour during this year's Perseid Meteor Shower.

Don't forget to look up tonight.

The Perseid meteor shower takes place primarily Aug. 11 through Sunday morning Aug. 12, and according to NASA, stargazers could see upward of 100 meteorites flash before them per hour.

According to Astronomy.com, the Perseid Meteor shower has some added bonuses this year: it will occur on a night when the moon is in its waning crescent phase, which means the moonlight will interfere only slightly with your view of the meteors, and it's on a Saturday night, which means people can stay up late and sleep in the next day.

The Mt. SAC Randall Planetarium Facebook page had this to say about the meteor shower.

"The earth will pass through the orbit of the Swift-Tuttle comet. As it does so debris left by the comet will burn up in our upper atmosphere flashing as a bright streak of light through the sky. The Perseids peak early Sunday morning before the sun rises. Don't feel like getting up early? You can stay up late Saturday night and still see some shooting stars."

You don't even need a telescope. Just spread out a blanket, maybe a late-night picnic, lay back and enjoy!  

Perseid Meteor Trivia:

  • Mankind has looked up at the Perseids for nearly 2,000 years
  • The Perseids are remnants of the Swift-Tuttle comet, which orbits the sun every 133 years.
  • These bits of comet "ice and dust" are more than 1,000 years old
  • These meteors travel 37 miles per second
  • The Perseids can be seen all over the sky, but the best viewing opportunities will be across the northern hemisphere.
  • Those with sharp eyes will see that the meteors radiate from the direction of the constellation Perseus, which forms an inverted "Y" shape and is in the northeast.
  • Some of the meteorites are as small as a grain of sand, but they have the kinetic energy of a nuclear bomb!
  • If you see a very slow, bright object sailing across the sky, it's either a satellite or a Space Station.   

Where and how to view:

  • The best time to view will be 2 a.m. on Aug. 12.
  • The weather is predicted to be clear, so you should have a good view.
  • Avoid city lights.
  • Join the NASA's Live Video/Audio Feed by clicking here. NASA will live stream the meteor shower as seen from atop the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville AL. Also experts will be online available to answer questions between 8 p.m. PDT and midnight.

If you snap a great photo of the shower, upload it to our photo gallery!



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