Tuesday morning will be your best chance to catch the famed Perseid meteor shower. Best viewing will be just after 4 AM until the sunrises. LSU Astronomy Professor Brad Schaefer says for best viewing find a wide-open space away from light pollution and give your eyes at least ten minutes to adjust to the darkness.

“It’s just magical and really easy to see. All you do is you find an open sky away from light, no big deal, you lay back and you just look up and it’s easy to see. Anyone can do it!”

With optimal conditions, you can see one meteor a minute, with the dashes of light emanating from the Perseid constellation.

The brilliant display comes courtesy of the Comet Swift-Tuttle’s yearly voyage around the sun. Schaefer says every year around August 12th the Earth’s orbit intersects with the trail of sand grains the comet leaves behind as it travels through the solar system.  He adds, “As it gets closer to the sun the ices on the surface of the comet out-gas and release the little sand grains that are embedded in this dirty ice ball.”

Schaefer says it’s unknown just how long the shower has existed, but Arabic records indicate it could be at least 800 years old.

The meteorites are hurtling through the solar system at 25-30 miles a second. Schaefer says the “shooting stars” are formed from the friction of the speeding objects crossing the Earth’s atmosphere…

“The meteors are going so incredibly fast that they get so hot that they start glowing, and that is what you are going to see.”

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