If predictions hold, observers across eastern Europe and northern Asia could witness 100 meteors per hour if they watch under clear dark skies. Viewers in North America should see up to 80 meteors per hour — still an average of more than one per minute — in the hour or two before twilight starts to break shortly after 4 a.m. local daylight time. If cloudy skies prevail on the 12th, look on the morning of the 13th, when rates will be somewhat lower but still impressive.
- The dust particles that create Perseid meteors were born in the comet known as 109P/Swift-Tuttle. This object orbits the Sun once every 130 years; it last returned to the inner solar system in 1992.
- Although 37 miles per second (59 km/s) may seem fast, Perseid meteors are not the quickest among annual showers. The Leonids of November top the charts, hitting our atmosphere at 44 miles per second (71 km/s).
- Although most shower meteors meet their demise high in Earth’s atmosphere, at altitudes between 50 and 70 miles (85 and 115 kilometers), a few bigger particles survive to within 12 miles (20km) of the surface. These typically produce “fireballs” that glow as bright as or brighter than Venus.