How to catch the Perseid meteor shower starting Wednesday night

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The Perseid's shooting stars are caused by debris from the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet (Photo: Shutterstock)What are the Perseids? If stargazers miss the show on Saturday, they also can look for it again beginning at about 11 p.m. on Sunday night.

While a falling meteorite can be seen any night of the year, it's this weekend when the sky puts on a show as the Earth passes through the stream of the comet.

The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus because that's where the point from which they appear to originate, called the radiant, is located.

There's no need to worry about meteors raining down on you, though, as Sky and Telescope says the bright streaks of the Perseids burning up are actually about 80 miles (128,748 meters) above your head and created by pieces of space debris about the size of a small pebble.

Even though this may be somewhat of a down year, the Perseids still typically are one of the best meteor shows of the year.

What you can expect to see if you're in an optimum viewing spot (read: anywhere devoid of light pollution) is around 60 or 70 meteors streaking through the sky every hour.

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Swift-Tuttle measures a massive 16 miles, and last passed by Earth in 1992. "The moon is very favorable for the Perseids this year, and that'll make the Perseids probably the best shower of 2018 for people who want to go out and view it".

Bill Cooke - NASA meteor expertHow many meteors will we see? The best time to view is after midnight each night.

The moon will be in its crescent, "new moon", shape, and will set before the shower stars. For these extra sparkly Perseid years, you can thank one of our obtrusive cosmic neighbors: Jupiter. However, this year with a dark clear sky, it's possible to see an awesome light show.

Experts offer some tips to get the most out of nature's fireworks: Since Perseid meteors can be seen from any direction in the sky, viewers should pick out a dark patch of sky free of light pollution and wait for the meteors to appear.

"If you have seen a few of them you have seen them all", he said.

While stars and star clusters are Twarog's specialty, he said he appreciates how the meteor showers light up the summer sky and anyone can appreciate the celestial wonder.