CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Perseid Meteor Shower has arrived and is ongoing through the first three weeks of August.
However, the absolute peak display is expected to occur late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning with astronomers picking 4:00am as the best time of night.
That's because we need to wait for the constellation Perseus to rise each night and get higher in the northeastern sky.
The meteors will appear to radiate from that point. The good news is this year's peak is occurring on a moonless night which provides a darker sky allowing gazers to see more shooting stars including the dimmer ones.
Many are dim because they are so small. Imagine what a bowl of Grape-Nuts cereal looks like.
Meteors are mostly tiny bits and fragments of rock and ice. These are commonly left behind from comets which are famous for their long tails.
As we pass through a leftover comet tail, we are colliding with the remaining debris from those earlier comets.
In this case we are passing through the wake of Comet Swift-Tuttle.
Most of the meteors are burning up around 60 – 80 miles high! They are moving at anywhere from 25,000mph to 150,000mph!! Most of the light you see is not from the meteor itself, but from the ionization of the super heated air.
If you're lucky, you could see meteors at a rate of up to 100 per hour which translates to around one to two per minute.