Get ready to make a wish, because there won’t be any shortage of shooting stars this month.
Outer space is hosting the annual Perseid Meteor shower, which is expected to peak on the night of August 11 and the early morning of August 12. While the annual spectacle is known for being one of the best opportunities to witness meteors streaking across the sky, this year’s event promises to be extra special. Or at least, that’s the word from NASA.
“Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double normal rates,” said Bill Cooke, who works with NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office. “Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour.”
You hear that? Double the meteors, double the fun. The last time we had conditions like this was in 2009.
The reason earth gets treated to the show, by the way, is that every Perseid meteor is actually a tiny fragment of a much larger comet named Swift-Tuttle (no relation to Taylor Swift), which orbits the sun every 133 years. As ol’ Swift-Tuttle hurtles through space with all its tiny bits breaking off, Earth eventually passes through the cluster that’s left over during its orbit around the sun.
Hence, the Perseid meteor shower. Which–fun fact–gets its name from the fact that all of its meteors tend to come from the constellation Perseus.
If you’re interested in seeing the show, you may not have much luck if you simply step outside of your door in a brightly-lit city and look up. For best results, go somewhere dark between midnight and dawn with a full view of the sky. Then lie on your back, give your eyes a little time to adjust and get ready to be amazed! NASA reports that we may also be treated to increased activity on the night and early morning of August 12 and 13.
If that’s all too difficult, you can always check out NASA’s live stream of the event right here.