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Previewing the peak of perseid meteor shower

Previewing the peak of perseid meteor shower
Posted at 11:36 AM, Aug 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 14:54:45-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Welcome back to Science Sundays! August brings the best-known meteor shower of the year, the perseids.

Most of these meteors are grains of dust up to the size of a pea, and they create fabulous "shooting stars" as they burn up in earth's atmosphere.

Perseids can be seen from mid-July through late August, the first one was seen on July 26, and the most likely time to see any is a couple of days on either side of the peak.

This year the peak falls on the night of August 11, and into the pre-dawn hours of August 12 -- that's this Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

Under really dark skies, you could see almost one per minute! Or, on average, about 40 per hour.

This year's peak night for the perseids benefits from a moon that sets early in the evening, so it won't interfere with the fainter meteors.

To enjoy the perseid meteor shower, just find a safe, dark location away from bright city lights and lie down, or recline with your feet facing toward north, and look up. Give your eyes some time to adjust to the dark—up to half an hour if you can... And enjoy the show!

Where do these shooting stars actually come from? The perseids are fragments of the comet "Swift-Tuttle", which orbits between the sun and beyond the orbit of Pluto once every 133 years. Every year, the earth passes near the path of the comet, and the debris left behind by Swift-Tuttle shows up as meteors in our sky. (Don’t worry, there’s no chance that we’ll run into the actual comet anytime soon!)

While the meteors appear to radiate from around the constellation Perseus, they can streak across the sky anywhere above you.

If you happen to catch any on camera, please be sure to share your photos on social media!

Teachers can head over to our website for a hands-on asteroid building classroom activity!