Look up! The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks August 12

The Perseid Meteor Shower will be at its peak from August 11 -13, giving stargazers the best opportunity to spot a few “shooting stars,” or meteors.

An outburst of Perseid meteors lights up the sky in August 2009 in this time-lapse image. Stargazers expect a similar outburst during next week’s Perseid meteor shower, which will be visible overnight on Aug. 11 and 12.
Credits: NASA/JPL

The Perseid Meteor Shower occurs every year as Earth passes through the dust and debris left behind from the Comet Swift-Tuttle. As the pieces of debris enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they heat up and burn as they streak across the sky, which is the bright streaking light you see.

In space, pieces of debris are called “meteoroids.” When they reach the Earth’s atmosphere, they’re called “meteors,” and if they fall to the Earth’s surface, they’re called “meteorites.”

It’s not expected that any of the meteors from the Perseid shower will hit the ground on Earth. They’re very small, about the size of a grain of sand, according to Space.com.

However, you should have a good chance to see a few meteors streak across the sky. NASA says they’re expecting about 150 meteors per hour.

Unfortunately, the moon will be very bright, at 78% full, which could wash out some of the fainter meteors.

NASA says the shower officially peaks at 1 p.m. EST on August 12, but your best bet to see a few meteors will be the predawn hours of August 12.