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August 11, 2009

Perseid meteor shower to peak tonight

Posted: 04:41 PM ET

Attention stargazers: If you don't mind getting up early (or staying up late) and can get to a rural area without a lot of lights, the skies should put on a show Wednesday about 4 a.m. ET.

Last August's Perseid meteor shower as seen over Bulgaria.

That's when the annual Perseid meteor shower should reach its peak over the east coast of North America, according to The Perseids appear to come from the constellation Perseus but are actually bits of debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet, which has been orbiting the sun for centuries. The Earth passes through these streams of shooting stars every August.

Astronomers expect up to 200 meteors per hour, although many of the fainter fireballs will not be visible due to moonlight. And of course, clouds or bad weather could render them not visible at all.

If you're lucky enough to witness the Perseids and want to share what you saw, astronomers from the United Kingdom are organizing what they claim to be the world's first mass-participation meteor star party.

The Newbury Astronomical Society is leading a global network of stargazers who will post real-time images of the Perseids on - what else? - Twitter (#meteorwatch). Good luck.

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Filed under: Astronomy

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cr   August 12th, 2009 4:33 am ET

downtown nyc, was able to see a couple streaks after squeezing eyes like crazy. clouds came and did us in 🙁

James Cantwell   August 12th, 2009 7:56 am ET

Missed it again! When will it peak on U.S. east coast in 2010?

jim   August 12th, 2009 11:25 am ET

once again, since you refuse to post my last comment, that is not a picture of a meteor shower...check your references and ask any amatuer astronomer....

James Cantwell   August 12th, 2009 2:52 pm ET

Missed it again! When will peak be in northesatern US in 2010?

fearmonger   August 12th, 2009 3:39 pm ET

The picture with this story is quite misleading. The streaks seen in the picture are star trails caused by the rotation of the earth and a camera set for a long exposure. Please label your pictures correctly CNN.

griggscnn   August 13th, 2009 2:41 pm ET

From SciTech Blog producer Brandon Griggs: To answer the commenters who say we've mislabeled the photo on this post - the photo comes from Getty Images, which identifies it as taken during last August's Perseid meteor shower. Yes, it does look like star trails, captured with a long exposure. But we have an obligation to trust the caption information provided by Getty. Thanks.

vbabe   August 15th, 2009 12:34 pm ET

I'd love to see this, the only area I know that would be perfect is a 45 minute drive and next to a cow pasture..

heerype   April 9th, 2010 10:45 pm ET

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carri   September 30th, 2010 6:03 am ET

i've been watching this meteor shower for 25 years. it falls the week of my birthday, so i never forget about it. i look foward to this birthday tradition every year. thanks to my dad for introducing me to this wonder

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