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. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Now I can put my Perseid Meteor Shoes back in the box for another 133 years. Perhaps someday again, maybe my grandchildren, if I ever have any, will be able to look to the sky and see what I couldn't see.

    August 12, 2012 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
    • mel

      It's every August

      August 12, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. GoDucks73

    We can't see it in the US....NBC owns the rights and has it on tape delay.

    August 12, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • LexI

      LOL Good one.

      August 12, 2012 at 7:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Selfish IsADisease

      Whoa! That's sharp! Nice one.

      August 12, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. LexI

    Cute. I would so grab a slice. Enjoy. 🙂

    August 12, 2012 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Sorry I made a typo. Allow me to resend.

    August 12, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. bahhb66

    Jesus Flakes,LMFAO its not just for breakfast anymore.
    Had to read that twice to see if you meant the debris or the people who worship.

    Either way,you made me laugh and that's unusual these days.

    August 12, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Somebody keeps deleting the community list. We're under attack.

    August 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Another thing I don't understand? Maybe someone with an IQ higher than 80, can help me solve this...
    CNN :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.
    JEFF: If it passes every 133 years, then how is it something is there every August. I thought I seen something elsewhere about 5 or more years ago, that said, that the Perseids only come into our view once every 133 years.

    August 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bozobub

      The comet leaves a trail of debris along its orbit; we cross that orbit every year. The reason the debris doesan't get "used up", is that it also is in orbit; it's not stationary, se we cross a different section each year.

      August 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • mel

      The field is millions of miles long and every year we pass by it.

      August 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sycosys

      The comet leaves a trail of particles in it's orbit. earth passes through this trail of debris every year even if the comet only swings by every 133.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • NutGrinder

      lol I really hope you don't have children.

      August 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chrissy

    Am stilled boggled as to why they delete little misters posts, but leave the garbage theory crap on here! Like the seroquel fool! Sheesh louise!

    August 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Between 7 and 5, at the Atlanta office, someone should snap a pic of the little perp deleting harmless posts, and upload it through the CNN Microsoft Exchange Server straight to the Manager. Make it happen.

    August 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jos. A. Mustich, CT USA

    let hope obama doesn't shoot off one of his killer drones....
    and while we're at it, leave iran alone, the israeli-jews have nukes, not the iranians...

    August 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. marquis de sade

    that meteor shower don't care

    August 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. smacpv

    thanku nasa please admitt me

    August 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bobcat (in a hat)©

    He picked me up in a Cobra, Mustang and his pathetic attempt to win me over with a car totally worked. I’m not shallow, but since I spent most of my twenties picking men up because I didn’t want my hair to frizz in their non-air conditioned jalopies on 3 wheels and a 15 year old spare, I welcomed his fancy sports car with open arms.

    We arrived at the restaurant and Rob was ordering food I hadn’t allowed myself to eat in years. I didn’t want to be “that girl” so I ate, drank, and oh, was I merry. Later we shopped a bit. Rob surprised me by buying an expensive pair of shoes that he caught me eyeing. Was this love ?

    August 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bobcat (in a hat)©

    That’s when it happened. Gas strikes in two different ways – uncontrollable toots or sharp, shooting pains that feel a lot like dying. I thought I was dying. Not to make a scene, I told Rob I suddenly wasn’t feeling well and probably needed to head home.
    On the way home in his Cobra, he tried to hold my hand and ask me lots of questions, but I wasn’t having any of it. The pain was so bad it felt like I was being stabbed with a bunch of tiny forks. Then I realized …

    My God, help me. I have a horrendous fart on deck. I’m in trouble. Big trouble.

    August 12, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    cmon bobcat (iah).

    August 12, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • bobcat (in a hat)©

      @ Jeff Frank

      I'm trying my friend, but they keep on moderating it.

      August 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
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