One of the best meteor showers of the year is set to light up the sky tonight.
Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning will be the optimal time to catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower as debris left from behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle continues streaking across the sky.
The debris started making its way across our galaxy in late July but will peak tonight, according to NASA.
“The Perseid meteor shower is often considered to be one of the best meteor showers of the year due to its high rates and pleasant late-summer temperatures,” the Marshall Space Flight Centre says.
“This year’s shower, however, has unfortunate circumstance of having a full Moon right at the shower peak, reducing the meteor rates from over 60 per hour down to 15-20 per hour.
“But 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.”
NASA recommends staying up late or getting up early to catch a glimpse of the shower.
Due to Australia’s position in the southern hemisphere the show might not be as bright, but stargazers should head out just after midnight for the best vantage.
The clearest views are said to be in early hours of the morning once the moon has set.
“On the night of the peak you will only have a scant few minutes of dark sky between moon set and twilight — not much time to see Perseids,” NASA says.
“If those hours seem daunting, not to worry! You can go out after dark, around 9pm local time and see Perseids. Just know that you won’t see nearly as many as you would had you gone out during the early morning hours.”
For those who aren’t up late or early, not to worry — NASA will be live broadcasting the event from Facebook.
NASA’s tips are to pick a spot away from bright lights and to lay on your back and look up because you don’t need any special equipment to spot them.
Stargazers should let their eyes become adjusted to the dark for about 30 minutes so they can see more meteors — and that means no looking at the bright lights in your phone.
“Meteors can generally be seen all over the sky so don’t worry about looking in any particular direction,” it says.
“While observing this month, not all of the meteors you’ll see belong to the Perseid meteor shower. Some are sporadic background meteors, and some are from other weaker showers also active right now, including the Alpha Capricornids, the Southern Delta Aquariids, and the Kappa Cygnids.”
NASA says to spot the difference, trace the meteor backwards.
“If you end up in the constellation Perseus, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a Perseid. If finding constellations isn’t your forte, then note that Perseids are some of the fastest meteors you’ll see!”