Hyperactive Perseid meteor shower starts tonight

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A stargazer waits for the Perseid meteor shower to begin near Bobcaygeon, Ontario, on Aug. 12, 2015. Photo by Fred Thornhill/Reuters

A stargazer waits for the Perseid meteor shower to begin near Bobcaygeon, Ontario, on Aug. 12, 2015. Photo by Fred Thornhill/Reuters

The annual Perseid meteor shower, which starts Thursday at about midnight, is expected to be especially spectacular this year.

Instead of the 80 meteors per hour seen during the typical Perseids, NASA predicts rates could soar up to 200 meteors per hour.

Every August, Earth ventures through the tail debris of the ancient Swift-Tuttle comet and the resulting light show is known as the Perseid meteor shower.

“[The meteors have] traveled billions of miles before their kamikaze run into Earth’s atmosphere,” NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke said in a statement.

The difference this year is Jupiter is pulling the comet’s dust trail closer, so Earth will hit the trail closer to its middle where there are more meteors.

You can watch the expected spectacular display on NASA’s live webcast.

Cooke told NPR another Perseid shower with this kind of activity isn’t expected again until 2027.

The Perseid meteors race through Earth’s atmosphere at a scorching speed of 132,000 miles per hour, but pose no threat because they burn up when they hit Earth’s atmosphere.

The meteor shower is expected to peak in the early hours of Friday morning, although it will continue Friday night into Saturday morning.

Here are NASA’s tips to get the best view: Find a spot with low light pollution, lie on your back and look straight up between midnight and dawn Friday morning. Then, allow about 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and enjoy the show.

The post Hyperactive Perseid meteor shower starts tonight appeared first on PBS NewsHour.