Watch the Perseids this Week

Photographer Ruslan Merzlyakov captured this spectacular photograph of the Perseid meteor shower filling the Danish sky in the early morning of Aug. 13, 2015. Photo via space.com

Sometimes you should just sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, especially when it’s broadcast by nature itself. This week, between August 11th and 12th, try to find time to stay awake once the moon has set, and a place you can be as far from light pollution as possible, and watch the sky for what promises to be a particularly active meteor shower from the Swift-Tuttle Comet, near the Perseus constellation:

According to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, the Perseids are perhaps the most popular meteor shower of the year. They will be in “outburst” in 2016, which means they’ll appear at double the usual rates. Learn more about the 2016 Perseid meteor shower in this video.

“This year, instead of seeing about 80 Perseids per hour, the rate could top 150 and even approach 200 meteors per hour,” Cooke said. It’s the first such outburst since 2009.

To learn more about the Perseids and other summer meteor showers, check out our Best Summer Meteor Showers Guide. Or, read on to learn how and when to see the Perseids, and what causes this year’s outburst.

Earth will pass through the path of Comet Swift-Tuttle from July 17 to Aug. 24, with the shower’s peak — when Earth passes through the densest, dustiest area — occurring on Aug. 12. That means you’ll see the most meteors in the shortest amount of time near that peak, but you can still catch some action from the famed meteor shower before or after that point.

The meteors will seem to originate from the constellation Perseus, which appears on the horizon at about 10 p.m. local time. However, the most meteors will be visible after midnight. They can appear all over the sky, but they will always look like they’re streaking away from Perseus.

On the night of Aug. 11, the moon’s light will interfere with the Perseids, but it will set at about 1 a.m. (your local time) on Aug. 12, NASA’s Jane Houston Jones said in a video guide to August’s night sky events. So the best time to look for them will be after moonset, she added.

Read more from Sarah Lewin at Space.com

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