The sky will light up this weekend with bright and numerous fireballs as the Perseid meteor shower peaks the nights of Aug. 11-12 and 12-13.

The Perseid’s popularity comes from the fact that they arrive in August, a time for vacations and balmy weather for people in the Northern Hemisphere. (Except, of course, in San Francisco, where Mark Twain’s apocryphal adage is in full effect.) Night sky watchers can head out to a dark location away from city lights and then sit back to watch the spectacular celestial show unfold above them.

There’s no wrong way to watch the Perseids. At peak, there may be up to 50 meteoroids shooting through the sky per hour. Though they mostly appear to come from the constellation Perseus, you’ll be able to spot streaks all over the sky. These flashes are leftover bits of debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle, which crosses the Earth’s orbit during the summer. The comet’s leavings hit our atmosphere at more than 200,000 kilometers per hour, generating spectacular bursts.

According to NASA, the Perseid shower produces more fireballs than any other annual meteor shower. The comet fragments have already been producing some early bursts, so this year may be particularly prolific. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office recommends looking out between the hours of 10:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. local time to see the best effects. Webcomic xkcd has also posted a great guide to all the regular meteor showers that we highly recommend.

If you happen to catch any great shots of the Perseids, please send them along to us!!!

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(Source: Wired)

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