By Steven Strouss
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Stargazers are going to enjoy a spectacular celestial event this week. The annual Perseid Meteor shower peaks the night of August 12th and viewing the meteors is expected to be great. The meteor shower will be especially dazzling because it coincides with a near new moon, which means dark skies. The event is typically easy to view because it produces up to 100 meteors each hour, which makes it one of the most active meteor displays throughout the entire year.
Every summer from July 17th to August 24th, the Earth crosses through the orbital path of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Debris pieces from the comet enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up at speeds near 133,000 mph. The annual summertime meteor show goes all week but viewing will be best by Wednesday night when clear, dark skies are expected across the region. Meteors will be visible starting around 10PM, but the best time to catch the bright, streaming shooting stars will be just before dawn on Wednesday or Thursday. The meteors can be seen with the naked eye, but viewers should give their eyes several minutes to adjust to the darkness outdoors. Viewers should also look toward the northeast direction near the constellation Perseus, for which the meteors are named. No telescope is needed, but if you are in an area with lots of light you may want to move to a more remote location.