The Perseid meteor shower, one of the most visible and spectacular annual sights from the night sky, will peak from the night of Friday Aug. 12 until the early morning of Saturday Aug. 13. 

What it is

Each year in August, the earth passes a cloud of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle.  Some of the debris is over 1,000 years old.

The debris burn up in the earth’s atmosphere and create the visible meteor shower.  It’s called the Perseid meteor shower because it looks to radiate from the constellation Perseus.

2011 Conditions

The year 2011 does not offer optimal conditions for viewing the Perseid meteor shower because the full moon will outshine many of the meteors.  NASA expects the rate to be only 20-30 per hour, weather permitting.

In optimal weather conditions, Perseids can light up at a rate of more than 1 per minute.

Where to Watch

To get the best view, avoid artificial lights from cities and other sources. 

The rate in the southern hemisphere will be quite lower compared to the northern hemisphere because the Perseid radiant doesn’t climb above the horizon.

NASA is offering a live video and audio feed of the Perseid meteor shower viewed from a camera at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Al. through this link.