How, when and where to watch the Perseid meteor shower

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Perseid meteor shower shows up every year in August and is considered one of the best meteor showers of the year.

It is expected to peak on August 12. The best time to watch the shower is late Saturday or early Sunday morning.

The shower typically has between 80 to a few hundred meteors per hour. This year there is expected to be enhanced rates of about 150 meteors per hour or so, however the increase will be cancelled out by the bright moon, which will wash out fainter Perseids.

NASA says you’ll likely see a meteor shower every couple of minutes at peak in the Northern Hemisphere. These meteors are actually specks of rock that have broken off Comet Swift-Tuttle and continued to orbit the Sun until they vaporize in Earth’s atmosphere.

According to NASA, the Perseid meteors travel at 132,000 miles per hour, 500 times faster than the fastest car in the world. At that speed, even a smidgen of dust makes a vivid streak of light when it collides with Earth’s atmosphere. Peak temperatures can reach anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit as they speed across the sky.

The Perseids pose no danger to Earth. Most burn up 50 miles above our planet. But an outburst could mean trouble for spacecraft.

Stargazers hoping to watch the event should find an area away from light pollution and get settled in a comfortable position, allowing about half an hour for their eyes to acclimatize to the dark.

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