This year's most reliable Perseid meteor shower is set to woo sky watchers in the overnight hours of Friday and Saturday this weekend. Glowing streaks will light up the sky in the early morning hours just before the moon becomes full.
While orbiting around the sun, Earth passes through different streams of interplanetary remains called meteoroids. In most cases, these meteoroids are originated from comets.
When comets come near the sun, they get warmed and emit gas and dust. It's the gas that forms the tail with the dust left behind. Whenever Earth passes through these particles, the dust enters the Earth's atmosphere at high speed, emitting bright streak as a result of being heated. These rapid bright streaks are called meteors.
According to astronomers, 2011 is a good year to watch for the Perseids. However, the full moon may create some interference.
"The moon will be out of the way before dawn, and that's when the meteors will be most visible," said astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center.
Jenniskens said that the best time for watching the Perseid in the Bay Area sky will be from 3 a.m to 5 a.m. on Friday and from 4:30 a.m. and 5:15 a.m. on Saturday. Under ideal conditions, up to 100 of the shooting stars per hour should be visible when the meteor shower peaks on Friday.