By Rachel Chang.
Every year in August, the night sky grows even more wondrous when the Perseid meteor shower takes place. In fact, NASA considers the annual event “the best meteor shower of the year,” since the fast and vibrant space rocks often leave long streaks of light and color behind. Though the meteor shower already started on July 14, it lasts through August 24, with the peak viewing period in mid-August—and this year promises prime viewing conditions.
What is the Perseid meteor shower?
A meteor, also called a meteoroid, is essentially a space rock—ranging in size from a tiny particle to a boulder—that enters Earth’s atmosphere and falls toward the surface. During the downfall, the air it passes through makes it hot—and it’s that hot air that we see glowing, NASA explains. When there are many of them, we group them together as a meteor shower.
Known for their fireballs, the Perseids, which comes from the 109P/Swift-Tuttle comet, are one of the most plentiful showers, with 50 to 100 meteors visible every hour as they move through the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 37 miles per second. Since the fireballs start from bigger particles, the bursts of light tend to be larger and brighter, the government agency says.
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