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How to see a shooting star

Lisa Varano, staff writer

August 7, 2010 — It's “the year's best fireworks show”. That's how The Night Sky Guy, Andrew Fazekas, describes the Perseid meteor shower. Find out how you can see a shooting star this upcoming week.

Perseid radiant. Courtesy Fred Bruenjes.
Perseid radiant. Courtesy Fred Bruenjes.

Your odds of seeing a shooting star in the night sky will dramatically increase this Thursday. The Perseid meteor shower is the biggest shooting star event of the year.

Every August, debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle hits the Earth's atmosphere and disintegrates, creating shooting stars. You'll want to gaze skyward sometime between 10 p.m. to dawn to catch them.

You might want to start stargazing even earlier to observe another special event. From sundown to 10 p.m., the planetary alignment of Mars, Saturn and Venus will be visible with the naked eye.

This year is considered an ideal time to see the Perseid meteor shower. The shooting stars should be visible because there won't be any lunar glare. In fact, some astronomy lovers have already seen a preview of what's to come.

Shooting stars will appear to come out of the Perseus constellation. Courtesy Starry Night Pro.
Shooting stars will appear to come out of the Perseus constellation. Courtesy Starry Night Pro.

“Skywatchers are already reporting nice shooting stars flashing across the sky. And all this is leading up to the main event on Thursday night, August 12, when up to 100 meteors per hour may rain down,” says The Night Sky Guy, Andrew Fazekas.

For the best chance of seeing the shooting stars, leave the city lights behind. Astronomer Andrew Yee recommends that you lie flat on your back. “The Perseid meteors appear in any direction in the sky. To catch the longer meteor streaks, you need to look away from the Perseid radiant (which is in the Perseus constellation),” he says.

Be sure to check your stargazing forecast to see if the skies will be clear where you are.

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