"Quick! Make a wish! It's a shooting star!"
That's what many of you will be saying if you're up late Friday and Saturday night for the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower. Every August, Earth's orbit takes us into the debris field (composed mainly of nickel and iron) of ancient comet "Swift-Tuttle." You could see as many as 50 "outbursts" per hour, but a bright waning gibbous moon may reduce that number.
The meteors will streak across the sky at speeds of over 130,000 mph, while reaching temperatures of 3,000- to 10,000-degrees Fahrenheit. As the particles fall through the mesosphere, around 50 miles above the surface, it burns within a second as we see the brilliant reds, greens and yellows move across the sky.
Although the outbursts can be spectacular, most of the meteors are only the size of a grain of sand, or as large as a small pebble, before they burn up in our atmosphere.
Best viewing will be from midnight to dawn on the morning of Aug. 12 and Aug.13. Lie on your back and look straight up. It should be a location with a full view of the sky that’s away from light pollution. The weather looks to cooperate as well. We are expecting a mostly clear sky at midnight Friday, with a few more clouds in the mix for Saturday night.