Coming this weekend: The most spectacular meteor shower of the year

Viewers can catch as many as 60-70 Perseid meteors per hour

A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above desert pine trees on August 13, 2015 in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

The Perseid meteor shower will be visible around the world this weekend, and experts say stargazers can expect the show to be a spectacular one.

While only about 60 to 70 meteors will be visible per hour (some years people can see as many as 200 in an hour!), the new moon, which will set before the show gets underway, will give viewers a favorable view, making it the best meteor shower of 2018.

The Perseid meteors are actually pieces of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, the largest object known to repeatedly pass by Earth. According to NASA, the comet is 16 miles across — that’s nearly twice the size of the object presumed to have led to the demise of dinosaurs.

Though the comet last passed by Earth in 1992, and won’t again until 2126, each year Earth passes through the dust and debris (rich in fireballs) it leaves behind, thus giving us the Perseid meteor shower.

Cool, huh? Hold that thought, because you’ll likely be way more impressed when you actually see the shower. Which is when, you ask?

The shower’s peak will be visible the nights of Aug. 11-12 and Aug. 12-13. However, NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke said he’s inclined to lean toward the night of Aug. 12-13 being a better show.

He said the key to getting the best show is “to take in as much sky as possible.”

NASA says even though the Perseids are visible as early as 10 p.m., they are best viewed in the predawn hours.

Those who plan to catch a glimpse of the shower also will be able to see Mars until about 4 a.m. (local time) and Saturn until about 2 a.m. (local time).

If you live in the middle of city lights, consider heading somewhere in the suburbs or countryside to get a better view.

Click here to find the best dark spot for optimal viewing of the meteor shower.

A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky over the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank on August 13, 2013 in Holmes Chapel, United Kingdom.
A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky between the hoodoos named Thor's Hammer (L) and the Three Sisters (R) early on August 13, 2016 in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

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