Perseid meteor shower should pack extra punch

Image: Perseids
A composite view from an all-sky camera in Chickamauga, Ga., shows Perseid meteors flashing on the night of Aug. 11, 2010. (Credit: NASA / MSFC / Meteoroid Environment Office)

August’s Perseid meteor shower is always one of the most accessible sky spectaculars of the year, but this year’s show is expected to be even more spectacular than usual.

The meteoric display is due to reach its peak on the night of Aug. 11, heading into the morning of Aug. 12. But you should be able to see shooting stars all this week, assuming the skies are clear. The best time is after moonset, which occurs around 1 a.m. on the peak night.

The Perseids pop up every year, reaching their height around Aug. 11-13. That’s when Earth passes through a stream of cosmic grit left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. When those flecks of grit streak through the upper atmosphere, they ionize the surrounding air and create the flashes we know and love.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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