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Shooting stars: Peak of the Perseid meteor shower is underway

Perseid meteor showerThe next couple nights—between midnight and 5 A.M.—will be the best opportunities to crane your neck upward and check out the Perseid meteor shower.

The shower, which happens every year when Earth passes through the debris trail left by Comet Swift-Tuttle, started in late July and lasts for a few weeks.

This year, although skies are expected to be clear through much of the Midwest and West, the moon is waning gibbous (still nearly three quarters full) and will be rising at about 10 P.M., just before the meteor action heats up over North America (about midnight, continuing on into the wee hours of Wednesday and Thursday).

But that's no reason to stay indoors, say some experts. "Every once in awhile," Joe Rao of SPACE.com, noted in a post today, "a Perseid fireball will blaze forth, bright enough to be quite spectacular and more than capable to attract attention even in bright moonlight."

City and suburban light pollution can be another challenge to spotting the fainter flashes. But a clear sky could yield more than 100 visible meteors an hour, according to SPACE.com.

Have some good counts, observations, photos or videos of the shower already? Send them our way at twitter.com/sciam.

Happy showering.

Image of a Perseid meteor courtesy of madmilked via Flickr

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