Every August, skywatchers look to the heavens to see the Perseids meteor shower. This shower peaks today, from about 3 p.m. ET to 2 a.m. ET tomorrow morning. The Perseids meteor shower is caused by the Earth passing through a debris field left by the Swift-Tuttle comet, which passes around the sun every 135 years. Swift-Tuttle’s last visit was in 1992.
To watch tonight’s display, head outside and lie down on the ground, or sit in a comfy chair and look up! Observers in Europe and North America will have the best show on this dark, moonless night. Scientists can’t predict what sort of show people will see, but some of the streaks may be bigger than others. “As the Earth passes through the dust trail of comets, it encounters debris from the size of grains of sand to [the size of] boulders,” said Raminder Singh Samra, resident astronomer at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Learn more about the Perseids on National Geographic News.
Learn how to go stargazing on National Geographic Kids.
Photograph by Michel Tournay, My Shot