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. PhilOsophy

    All memory of this will be forgotten. So why bother straining yourself over such mundane things? Nothing else to do. Yup. I hear ya bro.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. john marshuck

    PT or ET??

    August 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Erik

    Hey Ashley, I assume you mean EST?... there's more to the world than the eastern sea-board...

    August 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. April D. Young

    Six other ladies and myself will be watching... And chatting from the hot tub in Gatlinburg, tn.


    August 11, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. dazzle ©

    No I don't but I am determined to use this thing and capture some photos. Heavy cloud cover might make it difficult.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • dazzle ©

      @Kenny Rogers, is all of this your work? Don't lie to me.

      August 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    I INVENTED the meteor shower.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. polland

    hey i lve in wales uk will i b able 2 c this?

    August 11, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      No you can't see it.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Name*MJB

    Ok so i live in the Southern California. Do i have any chance at all .

    August 11, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. polland


    August 11, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. William Robison

    So is this actually meteors, or space junk falling back into earth? I don't mean to sound too cynical, or ruin things for everyone, but I can't help but wonder sometimes.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • polland

      its an astroud belt that only passes every 133 years

      August 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. polland

    lol 29 myself next month

    August 11, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. polland

    lol slow ? na just tired haha

    August 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. polland

    yes it is amazing

    August 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mara

    Can it be seen from massachusetts ??? Why couldn't they be more specific??

    August 11, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jo

    Read the first sentence of the article again. It does tell you where to look.

    August 11, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • BZ

      Northern Hemisphere refers to the upper half of the Earth Not very usefull in determining
      where to look. Look to the Northeast. Find Cassiopeia (the big W) and look below it too
      find the Radiant Point

      August 12, 2012 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Marko


      August 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
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