Epic meteor shower peaks tonight

As many as 90-100 meteors per hour are possible at the peak late tonight, but if the astronomical conditions are just right meteor rates could be up to 200 per hour.

Every year in August, the Earth passes along the edge of a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, the source of the Perseid shower. While the Earth moves through the trail, viewers can see a streak of lime light and falling stars that is caused when burning debris enters the atmosphere.

It is called the Perseid meteor shower because the meteors appear to originate from the Perseus constellation.

Our planet Earth has been passing through the trail of the Swift-Tuttle Comet since July 17, and we're quickly approaching the densest area on the night of August 11.

Hlynialuk says normally you can see about 90 meteors an hour but this year it could be twice that number. Some of these itty-bitty pieces of comet are REALLY old and have traveled billions of miles. A perseid meteor shower outburst hasn't happened since 2009.

The best time is sometime after midnight but before dawn on Friday, according to NASA. Meteors will also be visible Friday night into Saturday morning, but the encore won't be almost as impressive as Thursday's show. Allow your eyes to adjust to the dark for about 30 to 45 minutes and then gaze skyward in a northeasterly direction. The best time to watch out for the shooting stars is around 2 or 3am.

Astronomers expect a good show, if the sky clears.

NASA scientists are calling Thursday night's annual Perseid meteor shower one of the best shows in years! For stargazers who have difficulty seeing the shower, NASA will broadcast the meteor shower overnight on August 11 and 12 on Ustream.

Although tonight is the peak night to see the most meteors, you'll also be able to see a few during the overnight hours through the weekend.

  • Joey Payne