Stay up past midnight, grab a blanket and go stargazing tonight: The year’s most spectacular meteor shower is expected to peak Wednesday morning around 1 a.m. (your local time), and then again just before dawn.
The Perseid meteor shower happens every year in August, when the Earth travels through a cloud of debris left by the periodic comet Swift-Tuttle, which last approached the Earth in 1992. Under optimal conditions, up to 80 shooting stars can be seen every hour, although how many you’ll see tonight depends on cloud cover, the brightness of the moon and the proximity of city lights.
The Perseids get their name because meteors appear to shoot out from the arm of the Y-shaped constellation Perseus, named after the Greek hero famous for slaying Medusa.
Tuesday night, because of glare from the 55 percent gibbous moon, it may be easiest to spot shooting stars early in the night when the moon sits low in the sky. Between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. (local time wherever you are), meteors will be less frequent but may look brighter than during the shower’s peak. NASA scientists say that’s also the best time to spot a stunning “Earthgrazer,” which is a meteor that skims close to the Earth’s atmosphere and generates a long, colorful tail.
The first Perseids have been visible since late July, and many Flickr photographers have already captured beautiful images of the meteors. If you want to take your own photos, check out our how-to wiki on photographing the stars. You can also submit your images to the wiki site — if we get enough good ones, we’ll compile them into a gallery on Wired Science.
im waiting for this tonight.. at the moment im trying to borrow a friend’s digital camera. hoping to get an SLR. if the sky’s good then im gonna get some awesome pics.. article from Wired Science.