If you find yourself outside during the night next Thursday, don’t forget to look up. On August 11 and 12, the biggest meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, will be lighting up the night sky, and this year the Perseids promise to be the best shower of the decade.
The Perseids typically peak in mid-August every year, when the Earth intersects with the trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Debris from the comet impacts the Earth’s atmosphere and streaks across the sky, creating shooting stars.
Typically, the Perseids’ peak features about 100 meteors per hour. But this year, we may see twice that many thanks to an “outburst,” which occurs when the Earth runs into leftover debris from past orbits of the comet as well as debris from the current year. The extra material combines to create a truly spectacular meteor shower.