Perseids Meteor Shower Lights Up the Sky

This year's sky spectacle coincides with the new moon.

ByAlyssa Newcomb
August 13, 2015, 4:58 AM

— -- The annual Perseids meteor shower was set to reach its brilliant peak overnight, with as many as 100 meteors per hour visibly streaking across the sky.

This year's sky spectacle was expected to be especially dazzling since it coincides with the new moon, creating the perfect dark background for watching meteors zoom through the sky. The shower was set to reach its peak at 4 a.m. ET Thursday, but was difficult to see in some areas due to clouds.

For the best viewing, NASA recommended looking toward the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus in the northeastern part of the sky. Photos from previous years show the shower's dazzling nature.

PHOTO: A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above the radar near the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic, Aug. 12, 2015 in Ondrejov, Czech Republic.
A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above the radar near the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic, Aug. 12, 2015 in Ondrejov, Czech Republic.
Matej Divizna/Getty Images
PHOTO: Perseid meteors streak across the sky, Aug. 12, 2008, near Rogers Spring in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada.
Perseid meteors streak across the sky, Aug. 12, 2008, near Rogers Spring in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
PHOTO: This long-exposure photograph taken, Aug. 12, 2013, shows the Milky Way in the clear night sky near Yangon, Myanmar.
This long-exposure photograph taken, Aug. 12, 2013, shows the Milky Way in the clear night sky near Yangon, Myanmar.
AFP/Getty Images

The Perseids meteor shower is the result of space debris from the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet striking the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years and are associated with the Swift-Tuttle comet orbiting around the sun once every 133 years. The Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s debris each year in August, according to NASA, causing small bits of comet dust to enter our atmosphere at 37 miles per second.

The light show is caused when the dust disintegrates, creating the gorgeous bright streaks that light up the sky.

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