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Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks This Week, Expected to Be Stellar

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Photo taken August 11th, 2014 at Brasstown Bald, Georgia's highest point. Over 50 photographers, astronomers and people wanting to see a starry spectacle, with meteors thrown in, visited the place that evening.

Photo taken August 11th, 2014 at Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest point. Over 50 photographers, astronomers and people wanting to see a starry spectacle, with meteors thrown in, visited the place that evening.

A moonless evening could give stargazers a fantastic light show Wednesday and Thursday. The meteor shower is expected to reach its peak early Thursday at 4 a.m. ET when as many as 100 meteors per hour will be visible streaking across the sky.

The annual Perseid meteor shower, which is known for being among the brightest of meteor showers, is happening near the tail end of summer.

The major meteor shower will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere.

“If you see one meteor shower this year, make it August’s Perseids or December’s Geminids,” NASA says. “The Perseids feature fast and bright meteors that frequently leave trains, and in 2015 there will be no moonlight to upstage the shower.”

The best part about the showing is that it will happen a day before the new moon, meaning the night skies will be dark and perfect for meteor spotting. Under clear and dark skies, observers could expect to see up to 100 shooting stars an hour.

Astronomy experts say that those conditions have not been available since 2010.

Stargazers, campers or simply astronomy lovers will not need any additional equipment like a telescope to see the meteor shower. These fiery streaks of light should be visible to the naked eye that evening. But going to a rural area, away from urban spaces that are filled with light pollution, will increase the chances of seeing the Perseid meteor shower.

Staying up past midnight might also help viewers spot meteors. Some of the strongest showings happening in the predawn hours.

The Perseids are active from July 13 to August 26, according to the American Meteor Society, a nonprofit scientific organization that supports the research of astronomers, but the meteor shower peaks between August 12-13.

The meteor shower is composed of particles released from Comet 109/Swift-Tuttle during its many trips to the inner solar system, a region comprising terrestrial planets and asteroids.

The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus because that is where the meteors seem to originate from when looking up at the sky.

Below is the National Weather Service sky cover forecast for early Thursday morning.  Sky cover Is the expected amount of opaque clouds (in percent) covering the sky valid for the indicated hour.

 

National Weather Service sky cover forecast for 2 a.m., Thursday, August 13.

National Weather Service sky cover forecast for 2 a.m., Thursday, August 13.