Beyond the Weather: Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend

Perseid meteor shower 2018

Meteor showers are caused when meteoroids, who were once part of a comet or asteroid, start hitting Earth's atmosphere in streams.

The storm peaks in the early morning hours (just after midnight) of August 12 and 13 - this Sunday and Monday. During a solar eclipse, the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, casting a shadow on planet Earth.

The Perseid meteor shower is a prolific meteor shower which occurs every year in mid-August. People can look directly overhead to see the meteors, as long as they are in a dark area without too much light pollution.

Even though this may be somewhat of a down year, the Perseids still typically are one of the best meteor shows of the year. Bill Cooke, a scientist at NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office in Alabama, framed the phenomenon well in a 2016 interview with NASA. Better still, viewing conditions this time around are particularly ideal - due to a new moon. Though the shower hasn't yet reached its peak, observers have already reported spotting short bursts of high meteor activity (15 meteors per minute) at times, as well as significant meteor activity (~100) over several hours.

Active Junky, which is also the sister site of Space.com, has provided a list of the nation's top cities, and the best places they can go to watch the meteor show.

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The shower that we see from Earth is the little bits of ice and dust - that are usually no bigger than a pea - hitting the Earth's atmosphere at a staggering 134,000 miles per hour.

Patience is also a virtue, with shooting stars tending to appear in clusters, followed by a lull. For these extra sparkly Perseid years, you can thank one of our obtrusive cosmic neighbors: Jupiter.

The shooting stars will look like streaks of light across the sky.

Experts offer some tips to get the most out of nature's fireworks: Since Perseid meteors can be seen from any direction in the sky, viewers should pick out a dark patch of sky free of light pollution and wait for the meteors to appear. It's recommended you find a dark sky in a rural area away from artificial lighting.

If you're unable to see the Perseids this year in person, you can always watch them online.

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