Perseid meteor shower dazzles stargazers

Hundreds of shooting stars streak across the sky in mid-August. Peak expected after dark on Wednesday

By Christine Mathias
August 10, 2010 10:11PM (UTC)
main article image
A multicolored Perseid meteor striking the sky just to the right from Milky Way.

If you're able to escape the pervasiveness of city lights in the next few days (or if you live somewhere with actual sky above it) you'll have the chance to check out the most startling example of "shooting stars" visible to the naked eye -- the Perseid meteor shower. Every August the leftover bits of the Swift-Tuttle comet zoom through our atmosphere, producing up to 60 streaks of light an hour, and the peak of the astro-activity is expected after midnight Wednesday night through pre-dawn on Friday.

Fox News has an excellent explanation of the Perseids for laymen, while the Christian Science Monitor covers the pre-shower fireball (actually a tiny meteor) spotted over Alabama this week. NASA scientists compare meteor showers to bugs splatting on your car windshield, and MSNBC has tips on how to enjoy the display effectively. Check out this brief night-vision footage of 2007's Perseids:


Christine Mathias

MORE FROM Christine Mathias

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Physics Science