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'Best meteor shower of the year': Perseids to delight stargazers through August

Meteor Outburst
Posted at 2:27 PM, Jul 15, 2021

Ready for a show? The Perseid meteor shower is upon us once again.

The celestial event, which NASA considers the “best meteor shower of the year,” is active from about mid-July to late August, according to the U.S. space agency.

NASA says the meteor shower normally peaks in mid-August when up to 100 meteors can be seen per hour. But you may be able to see some “shooting stars” in the weeks leading up to and after that time.

NASA says it considers the Perseids the best because the meteors are very fast and bright, and they often leave long “wakes” of light and color behind them as they streak across the sky.

The Perseids are also known for their “fireballs,” which NASA says are larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak.

If you’ll be on the lookout for the meteor shower, NASA says it’s best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours, though it’s possible to view meteors from the shower as early as 10 p.m.

Meteor showers are also best viewed when away from city lights, so people in urban communities may want to travel somewhere more rural to experience the wonder.

As for where this shower comes from, NASA says meteors come from leftover comet particles and bits from broken asteroids. When Earth passes through these particles, the bits collide with our atmosphere and disintegrate to create fiery and colorful streaks in the sky.

The comet that’s responsible for creating the Perseids is 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which last visited the inner solar system in 1992, according to NASA.