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. keys1988

    ive seen two shooting stars this week in the UK :]

    August 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. snowboarder

    i may have to make plans to head out of town for a night in the sticks. i lament the loss of the star filled night sky when i moved so close to the city.

    August 11, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    It kinda reminds me of Lucky Charms cereal. You know. White stars, blue moons, pink hearts, or whatever it is?

    August 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      Magically delicious.

      August 11, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    How does it go?
    Star bright
    Starlight
    First star I see tonight
    I wish I may, I wish I might
    Have my wish, I wish tonight
    Something like that.... 😉

    August 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Time to slip on dem Perseid Meteor Shoes

    August 11, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dazzle ©

    I hope to have a front row seat to this event. Nothing more beautiful than a star filled night in the big sky country of the desert southwest. No need for a phone app for this, there is nothing more peaceful than anticipating the light show and capturing the event with my Nikkon camera.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. bobcat (in a hat)©

    @ dazzle ©

    I envy you for that.

    August 11, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bobcat (in a hat)©

    @ dazzle ©

    I see the other site got took over, so I figured I'd wait until someone showed up over here on this one.
    So, how the heck ya doin ?

    August 11, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      Yes that other site got taken over by religious fanatics, which is not my cup of tea.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      Did I really say "got took over" ? Wow, so much for educated vocabulary skills. lol

      August 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      I agree on the religious thing, I ahve discussed it, but it is too devisive for me. Just like politics. That's why I stay out of it for the most part. When I do enter those converstions, it's mostly for aggravating purposes. You know, just to see what I can stir up.

      August 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dazzle ©

    Hey @bobcat (in a hat)©, do you get a good view where you live?

    August 11, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      Unfortunately no. I'm out in the rural area, but there is still too much light pollution to view the way I'd like to. If I could talk my buddy into going out on the gulf tonite, about 20 miles out, it would be spectacular. I think I'll give him a call. Has your weather finally cleared up over there ?

      August 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dazzle ©

    I hope your buddy agrees to go out to the gulf with you, I would imagine that the view would be perfect as long as there is no lightening. It is still heavy monsoon but at least it cooled the temps down today. These folks in my town do not know how to drive in the rain.

    August 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. dazzle ©

    Lol, on the usage but who cares. We all do it. I admit to cringing though when I make grammatical errors.

    August 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. dazzle ©

    Absolutely not too boring.

    August 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MontanaTrace

    What parts of the country can see this?

    August 11, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. dazzle ©

    @Montana Trace-if you live in Montana you will have spectacular viewing. Talk about a big sky, you have it. Enjoy.

    August 11, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dawn C

    will i be able to see it in Connecticut?

    August 11, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
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