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Perseid Meteor Showers Peaking This Week

The name Perseid comes from the fact that it appears the meteors are radiating from a point in the constellation Perseus.

Stargazers have the opportunity to see the peak of the Perseid meteor shower this week.

Although the meteor showers start in late July and continue through late August, the peak time for viewing is in mid-August. This year, the meteor shower will peak between Wednesday and Friday.

The Perseid meteor shower is one of the biggest of the year.

Michigan State University Abrams Planetarium Director Shannon Schmoll says the best viewing times will be when it’s darkest out so the sun doesn’t penetrate the atmosphere, more specifically after midnight until sunrise.

“So you’ll be able to see them all over the place, so you don’t need to look in one part of the sky," Schmoll said. "But that point where they’ll appear to radiate will be at their highest that they can be before it’s too bright.”

To get a good look at the celestial event, viewers should try to avoid city areas and the lights that are around them. The brighter the sky means a decrease in chances that you will see the showers, which will also appear fainter.

A location's chance to view the shower will be pretty much the same all over the world, there isn't a specific geographical area where there's a better chance to see it over another.

Schmoll said the reason the shower is regular is because of passing comet debris.

“It’s from a pocket of material that crosses our orbit from a comet, in particular, this is the comet, Swift Tuttle. So we’re passing through that debris field left by Swift Tuttle, and so we’re picking up all that debris.”

Clear skies make for optimal viewing, so if the weather isn’t cooperating there isn’t much that can be done. However, if stargazers happen to miss the shower, there will be more opportunities this week.

McKoy's Story is brought to you as part of a partnership between WKAR and Michigan State University's Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.

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