Mark your calendars for this massive meteor event!

Earth will be graced by this annual meteor shower visible on the night of August 12th in America. The Perseid meteor shower (named after the proximity to the constellation Perseus) is actually fragments of a large and very rare comet called the Comet Swift-Tuttle.

Photo by Prokhor Minin on Unsplash
Photo by Prokhor Minin on Unsplash

What is the Comet Swift-Tuttle?

This massive, 16-mile-long piece of space ice takes a whopping 133 years to orbit the sun. The last time we were able to observe this token of astronomical history was back in 1992. That means we won't be able to see it again until the year 2125, so don't go setting any plans in August 101 years from now!

This specific comet was first spotted in 1862 by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle, and it has been playing the long game of hide and seek ever since.

Earth Passes Through Debris Of Comet Producing New Meteor Shower Tau Herculids
Getty Images

How can I view the Perseid meteor shower?

First off, make sure you check your local weather station to see if August 12th will be compatible with stargazing. Then, travel somewhere that has little to no light pollution outside of the city.

You may also want to pack some snacks, warm clothes and coffee or tea if you plan on staying up to watch the meteor shower all night.

It turns out that meteor showers occur when space dust and debris from comets burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

FUN FACT: It's actually the Earth itself that is moving into the path of the meteor shower, not vice versa. This is because Earth has a specific orbit and a comet has a specific orbit. Debris from the comet rests in its path, so when Earth's orbit crosses the path where the comet once was, debris can be seen burning up in the atmosphere as our planet passes through.

Perseid Meteor Shower

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