The Perseid meteor shower is an annual display of nature’s fireworks that occurs from mid-July until the end of August. Perseids are known for producing incredible fireballs and up to 100 shooting stars an hour during their peak. This year, the peak falls between the night of Monday, August 12, and the morning hours of Tuesday, August 13. NASA encouraged everyone to go out and see the astronomical spectacle in person tonight.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associated administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, tweeted: “Get outside tonight and catch the annual Perseid Meteor Shower.
“They’re best seen between 2am local time and dawn. If it’s cloudy in your area, tune in to the live broadcast from @NASA_Marshall.”
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted on the weekend: “Want to see the best-known meteors of the year?
“The #Perseids will peak Monday and Tuesday, but you can catch some early shooting stars this weekend.
“Here’s where when and how to check out what’s up!”.
Astronomers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center were also treated to an incredible surprise when a Perseid-hunting camera was photobombed by a spider.
What is the Perseid meteor shower?
The Perseid meteor shower is an annual display of fireworks caused by the Comet Swift-Tuttle.
As the comet swings around the Sun every 133 years, bits and pieces of rock and dust break off under the Sun’s intense heat.
The Earth then crosses the comet’s orbit between July and August, slamming into the orbital debris.
NASA said: “The Perseids, which peak during mid-August, are considered the best meteor shower of the year.
“With very fast and bright meteors, Perseids frequently leave long “wakes” of light and colour behind them as they streak through Earth’s atmosphere.
“The Perseids are one of the most plentiful showers – 50 to 100 meteors seen per hour – and occur with warm summer nighttime weather, allowing sky watchers to easily view them.”
Unfortunately, the presence of a bright Moon this week will reduce the number of visible meteors.
According to NASA, the number of shooting stars could drop as low as 15 to 20 due to a Waxing Gibbous Moon at around 90 percent illumination.