Perseids: "Unusually Good" Meteor Shower Expected

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<b>"Unusually Good" Meteor Shower Expected Thursday</b><br /><br />LINK<br /><br />The annual Perseid meteor shower, which peaks the night of Wednesday August 11, is poised to maintain its reputation for putting on a stellar show. <br /><br />"It is really easy to view the Perseids compared to other meteor showers. Just put on some mosquito repellant and go outside," said Bill Cooke, a meteor-shower expert with the Space Environment Group at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. <br /><br />A nearly moon-free night and a predicted dense concentration of comet debris are combining to make this year's Perseids even better than usual, several astronomers are reporting. <br /><br />Meteor showers occur when Earth orbits through trails of dust shed by comets on their repeated trips through the solar system. The tiny bits of debris, no larger than a grain of sand, light up when they strike Earth's upper atmosphere. In the process, they create what are commonly referred to as shooting stars. <br /><br />The Perseid meteor shower officially peaks at 7 a.m. ET on Thursday, August 12 and astronomers say the best time to catch an eyeful of shooting stars—about 50 to 60 per hour—is from midnight to dawn. <br /><br />"It's a very reliable shower. You can bet your bottom dollar that people will see meteors," said Mark Bailey, director of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland. <br /><br />The Perseids are known as fast and bright meteors, as Earth encounters them almost head-on, Cooke said. They enter Earth's atmosphere at a velocity of about 37 miles (60 kilometers) a second. <br /><br />Filament Crossing? <br /><br />Astronomers around the world are particularly excited about the predicted encounter at about 5 p.m. ET on August 11. That's when Earth will enter a relatively young, and thus dense, filament of dust that boiled off comet Swift-Tuttle in 1862. Swift
 
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