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. Paul

    You don't need to look in a certain direction. They appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, but their possible paths could be anywhere you look. And those with cameras but no clock drives can easily make time-lapse photos that look like the one in this article. It's just that almost all the streaks will be stars rather than meteors. I'm sure CNN would happily publish your results as yet another thrilling iReporter photo of the "spectacular meteor shower."

    August 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Southern mom


    August 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mab

    Dear NASA- Unfortunately, I do not have a smartphone, just a dumb phone, but if you would like to send me one, I'd be happy to help you out with your data collection process. ; )

    August 11, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Danielle

    I am a little confused other articles are stating its tomorrow some say tonight. I went outside to look for a while but cant seem to see anything. Is it for sure tonight or tomorrow?

    August 11, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thelma Lou Brickmore

      Herkie I can't wait to see you. What kind of southern gentlemen are you that you dont take mah phone calls. I even learned to text message but you never respond to me.

      August 12, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Herkimer Schwartz

      With this new tecknalagy, those tin cans attached by the string just don't work no more.

      August 12, 2012 at 12:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. mutt

    there everywhere!!!! up there look

    August 11, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thelma Lou Brickmore

      Herkie, I so long for the good old days. I been brewing some bourbon just for you

      August 12, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Herkimer Schwartz

      Um Um Um Good ole corn sqeezins. It don't get no better than that. Ceptin unless ya'll got a big ole pot of turnip greens and corn bred.

      August 12, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  6. Hollikins

    I enjoyed reading this, but I'm not sure which direction to look.

    August 11, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herkimer Schwartz

      Now you went and done it. You shore do know your way to a mans heart. Talking bout them chitlins done got my tongue slappin my brayns owt tryin to get to em.
      But dear sweet Thelma, I got to go out to the barn now and kick my dawg. I'll tawk at yew later.

      August 12, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. Name*fred maggiore

    Hey can't we all get aling

    August 11, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Name*fred maggiore

    Where will it be best to see

    August 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sammy

      Look outside fred which is easy enough.

      August 11, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay jay

      oh im so sorry. Did I offend half the people on this blog? Get off the govt free ride then!!!! Contribute to society instead of hindering it... But that makes no sense right?!

      August 12, 2012 at 4:50 am | Report abuse |
  9. Lt maggs

    Stay up all night

    August 11, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gdaym8

    I live in town. From my backyard I have seen several and it is 11:14 CST. Most are going North to South, we have seen a few going east to west. Even in town, we are seeing several within a 15 minute span. Turn off the TV and go outside for awhile. This year it is quite a show!

    August 12, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Max

    so when are the meteors supposed to start falling

    August 12, 2012 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Chitown

    "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". Not sure how that tells where to look, Jo. It basically narrows it down to the sky.

    August 12, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Almost ready to get my special Perseid Meteor Shoes on.

    August 12, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. arthur uzo

    Was that what the Maya saw? 2012.

    August 12, 2012 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Annette

    I wish so much, bloggers would make the print larger. I would love to read this.

    August 12, 2012 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
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