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The peak of the Perseid meteor shower is set to happen on Saturday night and Sunday morning, August 11 and 12, 2012. Watch it under your local night sky!

The Perseids should be a spectacular event because the Moon is in its waning crescent phase, so the light reflecting off its lunar surface should not interfere with the meteors traveling across our night sky at over 200,000 kilometers per hour (130,000 miles per hour) -- that's over 58 kilometers per second (37 miles per second). (corrected on 8/8/12)

The actual peak for the Perseids is estimated to be 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, August 12, 2012.

You can see the meteors any time before this date, as they have been flying across the sky since about July 23rd. And they will remain visible until August 22.

The meteors within the Perseid meteor shower are material from the Swift-Tuttle comet, which has a 130-year orbit around the Sun.

Almost all meteors are produced by comets, which cast off dust while passing through the inner solar system on their elliptical orbits around the Sun.

In the case of the Perseids, small dust grains of dust can range in size from a few millimeters up to a centimeter or more. They then vaporize in the Earth’s atmosphere at a height of almost 100 kilometers, which causes them to grow bright (as they are vaporized) and leave a glowing train as they race across the sky.

To see the meteors, look toward the constellation Perseus, in the northeastern sky. The number of meteors you should see at the peak could reach upwards to 60 or more an hour.

The Perseids are primarily visible in the northern hemisphere.

A YouTube video "Perseid Meteor Shower" shows one person's observation of the Perseids meteors in 2007. It states, "Last night I videotaped some meteors with my night vision camera. Except the third one all meteors are Perseids." (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XTBrYWrey0)


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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University