How to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in the Northwest this weekend

Perseids 2018 Perseid meteor shower at night

Perseids 2018 The Perseid meteor shower will be among the greatest spectacles of the year

The annual Perseid shower occurs when the Earth's orbit crosses the path of debris thrown off by Comet Swift-Tuttle. If stargazers miss the show on Saturday, they also can look for it again beginning at about 11 p.m. on Sunday night.

The Perseids produce the highest number of bright fireball meteors.

"The Perseid meteor shower is the best of the year", said Jane Houston Jones from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"The Perseids are perhaps the most popular meteor shower because they're a summer watching event when people are often more relaxed, kids don't have to be up early for school, and the weather is so much more accommodating than in the colder fall or winter months", Dr. Jacqueline Faherty, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, tells TIME.

Such an adjustment occurs every 11 years or so, when Jupiter makes its closest approach to the Swift-Tuttle debris cloud, at a distance of about 160 million miles (257 million kilometers).

During the meteor shower's peak, skywatchers in the northern hemisphere can expect to see up to 60-70 shooting stars per hour, provided they've found some dark, clear skies for viewing.

Although we won't see the comet itself, we will still witness the trail of debris left by it. But the most spectacular long-lasting meteors, known as "Earthgrazers", can be seen when the radiant is still low above the horizon.

Why is it considered the best of the year?

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. As the cosmic junk - many the size of a grain of sand - enters the atmosphere, it burns up in a flash, appearing as "shooting stars" across the sky.

How many meteors will we see?

It's recommended you find a dark sky in a rural area away from artificial lighting.

Capturing the fleeting light show requires some luck as meteors quickly strike through the starry skies. "You should be able to see some meteors from July 17 to August 24, with the rates increasing during the weeks before August 12 and decreasing after the 13th", NASA said in a skywatching video.

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