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Perseid meteor shower peaks early Wednesday. How about taking a look?

The Perseid meteor shower is one of the biggest annual events of its kind, and it’s coming soon to a sky near you.

The so-called “shooting stars” that you see fizzing brightly across the sky during the Perseid meteor shower are fragments of the Swift-Tuttle comet burning up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed. Swift-Tuttle’s most recent fly-by was in 1992, with the next one not until 2125. Despite the lengthy orbit, the comet’s huge size — it’s about 16 miles (26 km) across — means that it has a dense debris trail, paving the way for a spectacular meteor shower.

The fragments begin streaking across the sky in late July, with the event peaking in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, August 12.

Although you would normally expect to see around 60 meteors per hour during the peak phase, NASA says that this year the brightness of the moon will impede the view somewhat, reducing the visible meteors to around 20 per hour.

The space agency adds that despite the reduced visibility, “the Perseids are rich in bright meteors and fireballs, so it will still be worth going out in the early morning to catch some of nature’s fireworks.”

So, how can you watch it? Well, you’re either going to have to stay up really late tonight or get up really early on Wednesday morning.

The Perseids are best viewed between about 2 a.m. your local time and dawn, with the best views obtained in locations with minimal light pollution.

NASA says if these hours are just too hard to handle, then not to worry. “You can go out after dark, around 9 p.m. local time, and see a few Perseids. Just know that you won’t see nearly as many as you would had you gone out during the early morning hours.”

If clouds threaten to spoil the show, you can always hit NASA TV, which will be livestreaming the Perseid meteor shower from 9 p.m. ET.

And if you’re a keen photographer and want to try your hand at capturing some of the meteors burning up in the night sky, check out this Digital Trends article telling you all you need to know.

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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How to watch
The space agency’s own meteor-tracking cameras spotted their first Perseid in late July, but your best chance of catching them will be during the peak viewing hours of late Wednesday night on August 11 through dawn on Thursday. 
There are several key points to keep in mind to give yourself the best chance of witnessing an entertaining meteor shower.
-- First, you should try to get away from any light pollution. NASA says that if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere and well away from disruptive light sources, you could get to see more than 40 Perseids an hour. But if you can’t escape the city lights, you might only see a few every hour. In other words, it’s really worth heading to a darker location if at all possible.
-- Find a spot that offers an expansive view of the night sky, if possible away from things like buildings, trees, and mountains that will reduce your viewing opportunities.
-- If you have a reclining seat that you can take with you, that's great. Failing that, a blanket to lie on will do. That way you won’t have to stand the whole time with your head tilted back, putting unnecessary strain on your neck.
-- Give your eyes around half an hour to adjust to the dark. If you’re coming from a brightly lit place, or you were just staring at your smartphone screen, your eyes need time to get used to the lower light levels. You’ll be surprised at how much more detail you can see in the night sky after just 15 minutes or so of adjustment.
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