WASHINGTON — One of the year's most exciting celestial shows is getting underway.
The Perseid meteor shower peaks in mid-August, but the annual event is considered to be active starting on July 14, according to NASA.
It's considered "the best meteor shower of the year," with 50-100 meteors able to be seen every hour during the warm summertime peak, the space agency explains on its website.
This year, the Perseid meteor shower is projected to peak around August 11, 12.
The Perseids appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, which is where the event gets its name, but tracking down the constellation isn't necessary because the meteors will appear throughout the sky.
These particular meteors are the result of space debris from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which orbits our sun every 133 years. Giovanni Schiaparelli is credited with discovering in 1865 that Swift-Tuttle was the source of the Perseids.
"Every year Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the bits to collide with our atmosphere and disintegrate to create fiery and colorful streaks in the sky," NASA explains.
As EarthSky points out, 2021 could be a great year to see the Perseids because the waxing crescent moon will set early in the evening. With the moon below the horizon most of the night, the meteors won't have as much light pollution to compete against.
How to see the Perseid meteor shower
For best viewing in the Northern Hemisphere, NASA recommends going out during the pre-dawn hours, though it's possible to sometimes view meteors from this shower as early as 10 p.m.
Those hoping to catch a glimpse of this year's show can also use NASA's Meteor Estimator, which calculates how many meteors you can expect to see on a given date at a specific location.