How to watch the Perseid meteor shower
Share your photos of the Perseid meteor shower with us on CNN iReport, like this one from Greg Ochoki in 2011.
August 11th, 2012
03:12 PM ET

How to watch the Perseid meteor shower

Hundreds of shooting stars and fireballs will fill the skies over the northern hemisphere on Saturday and Sunday night as Earth passes through a stream of debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle - otherwise known as the Perseid meteor shower.

The Perseids have presented a scintillating display for 2,000 years, according to NASA. The comet Swift-Tuttle orbits the sun once every 133 years, which means that every August, the earth passes through a the comet's debris field. The ice and dust, accumulating over a thousand years, burns up in our atmosphere to create the meteor shower.

This year's display will be even more awe-inspiring than years past because the brightest planets in our solar system will be in the middle of it all. Jupiter, Venus and the crescent Moon will align as the shower peaks. And just as the shower is beginning to wane on August 13, the planets will be at their brightest, according to NASA.

The meteor shower will peak on the night of August 12, with at least a hundred shooting stars visible per hour. NASA scientists advise that although they can be seen any time after 10 p.m., the best time to spot a flurry of meteors will be during the darkest part of the night, in the early hours before dawn.

If you live in an urban area, you might want to drive a little ways to avoid the distraction of the city lights, which can make the meteor shower seem faint. Scientists from NASA also said that camping out in the country can triple the amount of visible meteors.

Thinking of counting all of the shooting stars? If so, NASA would like for you to let them know. They have developed an app for the Android and iPhone that allows stargazers to count every meteor they see, and report the results in a scientific way that will be valuable to NASA. The data will allow scientists to study and model the debris stream of the meteor shower.

If you already plan to stay up all night in anticipation of the meteor shower, join the online chat with astronomer Bill Cooke and his team from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center on Saturday night. From 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., ask them your burning questions about the meteors filling the night sky.

And don't forget to grab your camera before you head out. Meteor showers are a great opportunity for time-lapse videos and long-exposure photography, allowing your shots of the night sky to turn into van Gogh-like paintings of this starry spectacle. Share what you capture with us on CNN iReport and your photos and videos could be featured on CNN.

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Filed under: Space
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. bobcat (in a hat)©

    How do you tell a man you just started dating that the reason you’re writhing in pain is because you have to fart?

    Well, you can either tell him, or like me, let the fart speak for itself.


    August 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. bobcat (in a hat)©

    Suddenly, I panicked. “Roll down the windows!” I screamed (yes, I literally screamed it like I was in a horror movie).

    “What? Why?” Rob asked, starting to freak out because I was freaking out.

    “I can’t roll down the windows, unlock it! UNLOCK IT!”

    “What’s going on?” Rob yells back to me, “Why are you …” then it hit him. I could see it in his eyes. Was it surprise? Horror? Water started to gather at the base of his eyelids, “Oh my God, I CAN TASTE IT!” he screamed.

    “Roll down the windows!” As I screamed, the toots started to flood out uncontrollably. I scratched and clawed at the window like I was being kidnapped. Rob, unable to see either by fart cloud or panic, kept turning on the windshield wipers instead of unlocking the window.

    August 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    I was watching from a boat last night, and although it was rather early yet, we saw probably 10 that were absolutely spectacular!
    I've never seen anything like it.

    August 12, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bozobub

    Sorry, no, your sad political anxieties affect the Perseids not one whit =3 ...

    August 12, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mel

    Just something to do with a bottle of wine after a day of riding the Harley, practicing with the Remington and pllaying with the dog. What was that about getting a life?

    August 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ann

    omg haha
    I'm actually excited!

    August 12, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rascal Rabble


    August 12, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bobcat (in a hat)©


    August 12, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Thatguy371

    Say, now that's talent. Turning a meteor shower into a political thing. Wow. You forgot to tell us to only P in a lead lined room so the govt won't watch our willie.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. xblueberrymoofinx

    I have been obsessed with meteor showers since I was 8 c:

    August 13, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. Star Gazier

    Last night's meteor shower stunk. I saw only 1 meteor. I was pretty cool though. I was outside from 10:40 to 11:30 and only 1 meteor. Very sad.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • SciGuy73

      You should go out at 4am. Only the fastest meteors are able to catch the earth at 10pm

      August 13, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
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    August 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
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