Every year in August, the Perseid meteor shower makes an impressive lights show in the skies over the northern hemisphere and, in 2012, the peak of the shower will fall on the weekend of August 11 and 12.
Unlike last year, when a full moon interfered with the show, this year the waning crescent moon will have a lesser impact. At their highest frequency, the Perseids will hit Earth’s atmosphere at more than 100 an hour, although not all will leave light trails in the night sky. The best viewing time to view the meteor shower is in the early hours of August 12.
The Perseids have been observed for at least two millennia and are bits of dust and ice trailing the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years, according to NASA. Their name derives from the fact that they appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus.
(Photo of Perseid meteor as seen from the International Space Station by NASA)