This weekend, the annual Perseid meteor shower sending hundreds of shooting stars flying through the northwest night sky. Many experts call it the best shower of the year.
The dark hours between Saturday night and Sunday morning should be fruitful for meteor hunting. The shooting stars will appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, named after the ancient Greek hero - hence the name Perseids.
This peak occurs as planet Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by comet Swift-Tuttle. Bits of rock and ice from the comet slam into Earth's atmosphere, burning up to create short-lived streaks of light that we see as shooting stars. Our planet meets with Swift-Tuttle's trail every year in late July or early August.
This year's pass through the Perseids will be extra special because of a celestial show going on now. The bright planets Jupiter and Venus, along with the cresent moon, are visible in the night sky alongside the Perseids, offering an especially dazzling sight for stargazers. These planets, and the moon, will be aligned in the eastern sky before dawn Aug.11th to Aug.13th.
Luckily for observers, the moon should not be bright enough to obscure most meteors, but shoul provide a complementary celestial wonder to behold.
"Sky watchers say there's nothing prettier than a close encounter between the slender cresent moon and venus - nothing, that is, except for the cresent moon, Venus and a flurry of Perseids," astronomer Tony Philips wrote on the Science@NASA website.
Until then, See You Soon.
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