'Best meteor shower of the year' happening this weekend

Flickr user ashley.adcox

On the nights of August 11 through 13, 2012, the heavenly display will be best viewed after 10 p.m. and won't really kick into high gear until the pre-dawn hours. 

The Perseids meteor shower is thanks to the 130-year orbit of the Swift-Tuttle comet, in which the, "stream of debris is called the Perseid cloud and stretches along the orbit of the comet." the debris then comes in contact with the Earth's atmosphere and voilà meteor shower.

However, an awesome meteor shower won't be the only thing on display this weekend, TheVerge writes,

you [will] get to witness plenty of meteors flying through the sky, the brightest planets in the solar system will also be visible, including both Jupiter and Venus. 

The alignment of the three bodies, Jupiter, Venus and the crescent moon occur in the eastern sky before sunrise on all three mornings of the Perseid meteor shower. 


"We expect to see meteor rates as high as a hundred per hour...The Perseids always put on a good show." -Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.

As much as we would like to say that the best viewing will be on the beach, that won't be the case in all or most beaches in the area; light pollution will be a factor as is with most populated areas. So try and get as far away from populated areas, a drive past Conway at 4 a.m. might just be what the NASA scientist orders.

For this year's display, there is an app for that

It's only natural, while you're watching a meteor shower like the Perseids, to count the number of shooting stars you see.  It turns out those numbers in your head are valuable.  NASA wants them.  Meteor tallies gathered by amateur sky watchers can be used by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office to study and model the Perseid debris stream.

NASA's Meteor Counter app is available for both iOS and Android powered devices and the app is free to download and use. 

The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for about 2000 years. Read NASA's 2012 Perseid Meteor Shower write-up here