Jiminy Cricket would have a field day tonight, as the annual Perseid meteor show is expected to illuminate the sky with thousands of wishing stars.
Despite a bright moon, stargazers will be able to spot the flashing tails and fast-falling flames of Perseid meteors tonight and possibly for the next few days. North Americans can best enjoy the celestial scenery away from all city lights and moonlight from midnight to around 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, when the Earth is rotating towards the meteor shower. But if observers miss that showing, another may still roll around during the same time Wednesday into Thursday.
Like clockwork, Earth moves through a stream of 2,000-year-old debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle every August, spreading out the stream more and more. The debris which run over earth make up meteors world-citizens see each year, though from different tangents. This year, the shower is expected to fall from the constellation Perseus in the northwestern portion of the sky.
The Perseid meteors – which can be anywhere from the size of a grain of sand to a marble – are expected to fall thousands of miles per hour, perhaps 80 each hour.