The annual Perseid meteor showers are underway. Here is a guide for observing the shooting stars: Viewing the 2016 Perseids – American Meteor Society

The Perseids are active from July 13th through August 26th. Maximum activity is predicted to occur on the morning of August 12th, when rates in excess of 1 per minute may be seen from dark sky sites. On the morning of maximum the waxing gibbous moon will set between midnight and 0100 local daylight time as seen from mid-northern latitudes. This will free up the prime observing hours from interfering moonlight.

A meteor shower happens when the Earth’s orbit crosses the trail of dust particles left by a comet. The Perseids are produced by the trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle as seen in this image:

comet-path[1]

Although the dust particles are tiny, they are going so fast relative to the earth they can still produce a bright meteor when crashing through the atoms in the upper atmosphere.

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