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. chrissy

    awww bobcat, i so know the feeling! Plus as close as i am 2 the airport no chance of seein anything cept *de plain boss, de plain!* How are you guys tonite? Outside of the fanatics you spoke of i mean lol! The ones that are gonna change da US & not vote!

    August 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      @chrissy, Hello, I hope you can get a good view even with those airports so close. Catch you later, time to cook. @bobcat(iah)Cheers to you and get out to the Gulf if it's safe. Laters.

      August 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chrissy

    Lol yea dazzle im gonna try anyway. And todays Quirky News, a Scranton Pennsylvania man accidentally dialed 911 during a drug deal. He seriously Dunder Miffed! lmao

    August 11, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. J

    Will I see it from Maui Hawaii?

    August 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    So DCL, just because im reading your post on the internet does that mean its not true? lol just teasin ya.

    August 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DCL

    All in good fun, chrissy. I just wish people would do their own homework and not rely so much on the internet. I'm old fashioned I guess.

    August 11, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    Yea me too, old fashioned i mean. But since ive built many of the circuit bds in computors, and for NASA even, i guess i kinda have to support it a little. lol.

    August 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • DCL

      A pleasure to meet up with you chrissy. I hope we have that chance again. I miss the days of the Remington typewriters but at least I memorize key strokes. A pleasant evening to you.

      August 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. john in missouri

    whick direction is best to observe them?

    August 11, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chrissy


    August 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chrissy

    During the darkest part of the night, which is usually a cpl hours before dawn.

    August 11, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. john in missouri

    thanks chrissy

    August 11, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jo

    Anyone know a good viewing site near Austin, TX?

    August 11, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Thanks for the golf jokes bobcat (iah). I read them before I left for work. Your a real riot.

    August 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. chrissy

    Yep thank you and you too DCL, and i still have my typewriter. And just so i dont rely on the internet too much, i have over 5000 books, as reading is my true passion. 😉 and Jo, sorry i cant help ya there, i live in michigan.

    August 11, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DCL

    Chrissy, you were so kind to me. I wanted to report in that I saw 3 shooting stars in Maine. Never lose sight of those books, I still have mine from my days in the seminary. They are very old.

    August 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Paul

    For those not sure what to expect to see tonight, the photo at the head of this article is totally misleading to the point of being dishonest – as are most photos of "meteor showers" published in the lame-stream media. The photo is simply a time-lapse exposure of the night sky using a fixed camera. So all the streaks you see are stars moving as the earth turns. Ony two meteors are in the picture but the impression made is of hundreds. An accurate photo can only be made with a camera on a clock-driven equatorial mount so it follows the earth's rotation. Most amateur astronomers have such equipment but CNN evidently either doesn't know any, or find their realistic photos too boring. Hope those of you with access to dark sky, and who have clear weather predicted for tonight, get to see something memorable. But don't be disappointed if it isn't remotely like this photo.

    August 11, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • eric

      I agree with your point, but I think I counted 7.

      August 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
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