Perseid Meteor Shower 2012: Shooting Stars Sunday Morning
The Perseid meteor shower of 2012 is expected to peak Sunday between midnight and dawn, and if you’re in a good, dark place, you might see more than 60 meteors — shooting stars — per hour.
Every year at this time, the Earth passes through the orbit of a comet called Swift-Tuttle, and we see meteors streaking across the night sky as pieces of debris from the comet — most no larger than grains of sand — enter the earth’s atmosphere and burn up.
Although the comet is far away now, in an elliptical orbit that brings it close to the sun once every 133 years, rock and ice from it have spread out along its path. The comet itself will probably be pretty good to see if you can hang on until July 2126, but in the meantime, like clockwork, it gives us an annual meteor shower in mid-August.
This is a good year to look. There is a crescent moon that will rise in the east Sunday around 2 a.m., but it should not be bright enough to interfere with seeing in other parts of the sky. The weather is another matter; the forecast, especially for the eastern United States, is not promising.” Read more.