Perseid Meteor Shower To Light Up Sky This WeekendPlay
The annual Perseid meteor shower will be most visible on Sunday and Monday.
The best visibility in North America will be between 1 a.m. and dawn Eastern time, weather permitting.
"You want to get somewhere where it's dark — no street lights or porch lights in your view. No telescopes are needed. Just look up where it's really dark in the sky, and let it happen," veteran space reporter J. Kelly Beatty told Here & Now.
The meteors themselves are tiny — about the size of Grape-Nuts, Beatty said.
"These are little bits that enter the Earth's atmosphere, burn up 50 miles up and create a brief streak of light. If you've a really dark place like in Maine, you might see one a minute. Maybe one every two minutes. And it will be a show that goes on all night long, beginning 9 or 10 o'clock but getting better as the hours go on before dawn," he said.
Why are we seeing so many meteors right now?
"This comet is going around the sun in a long looping orbit, and every August — like clockwork — the Earth plows through the orbit of that comet. And that's when we get peppered with these little things."
- J. Kelly Beatty, senior contributing editor for Sky & Telescope. He tweets @NightSkyGuy.
This segment aired on August 9, 2013.