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Annual Meteor Shower To Appear Wednesday

This article is more than 9 years old.
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid meteor shower on Aug. 11, 2009 in Vinton, Calif. (AP)
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid meteor shower on Aug. 11, 2009 in Vinton, Calif. (AP)

Away from the city lights, the annual Perseid meteor shower will peak between 10 p.m. Thursday night and dawn Friday.

David Aguilar, with the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, says this year's display could be "spectacular."

"Generally they average about 60 meteors an hour raining down on us," Aguilar said. "But last year it went up to 120. So we don't really know. We think we may be going through a dense patch of material, and there could be quite a few meteors coming down tonight."

The meteor shower, which is visible to the naked eye, is "not a star at all," said Mike Adams, of the Boston Museum of Science's observatory.

"It's a chunk of dust, rock," Adams said. "And when it hits the Earth's atmosphere, the friction of the rubbing of that particle and the air causes it to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere and you see it streak across the sky, almost like a thin, whitish line."

Aguilar says optimal viewing is expected after midnight and especially during the early dawn hours.

This program aired on August 12, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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