2016 Perseid Meteor Shower Will Be Twice as Impressive This Year: When & Where to Watch


The annual Perseid meteor shower is one of the most anticipated stargazing events of the year, and this year it's going to be even more spectacular than usual.

Amel Emric/AP

"Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double normal rates on the night of Aug. 11 and Aug. 12," Bill Cooke, from NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office, said in a statement. "Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour."

That's right, Perseids is going to be twice as good this year. That's because this year the Earth will hit more pieces of comet debris than usual, so there will be more meteors per hour than a typical meteor shower, according to NASA. This phenomenon is called a meteor "outburst." The last such outburst happened back in 2009.

Here's when and where to watch the meteor shower:

Perseids will peak on Aug. 11 and 12, according to NASA, so that's when you'll have the best chance to see the most meteors. The ideal window is from midnight on Aug. 12 through the early morning hours. 

NASA recommends getting far away from city lights and giving your eyes about 45 minutes to adjust to the darkness. If you're stuck in a big city for the night, NASA will be livestreaming the meteor shower starting at 10 p.m. EST on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12. 

Why Perseids happens

We see this meteor shower every summer when Earth passes through the tail of the comet Swift-Tuttle, according to NASA. Chunks of debris from the comet hit the Earth's atmosphere, ignite and then disintegrate. The result is a series of bright flashes across the sky that look like shooting stars.

"Here's something to think about," Cooke said. "The meteors you'll see this year are from comet flybys that occurred hundreds if not thousands of years ago. And they've traveled billions of miles before their kamikaze run into Earth's atmosphere."

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