How and when to watch the 'best meteor shower of the year' this week

How and when to watch the 'best meteor shower of the year' this week Getty (3).jpg
Silhouette of young couple watching Meteor Shower. (Getty Images)

It's one of the most popular meteor showers of the year, and it's happening this week, according to NASA. You can see some incredible photos of past showers in our gallery above or by clicking here.

Perseid meteors are those left behind by the Swift-Tuttle Comet and they began streaking across U.S. skies in late July.

The showers will peak in the dark, early hours of August 12, between 2:00 a.m. and dawn local time. Perseid meteors are some of the fastest you'll see.

The showers will have competition from a bright moon that rises around midnight, though you can still expect to see one meteor every two minutes during the peak. You do not need any special equipment to see the meteors, just your eyes.

NASA explains why the Perseid meteor is so popular:

The Perseid meteor shower is often considered to be one of the best meteor showers of the year due to its high rates and pleasant late-summer temperatures. This year’s shower, however, has the unfortunate circumstance of the Moon phase—last quarter—impeding the view of the shower peak, reducing the visible meteors from over 60 per hour down to 15-20 per hour. But the Perseids are rich in bright meteors and fireballs, so it will still be worth going out in the early morning to catch some of nature’s fireworks."

If you don't want to stay up late or get up early on Aug. 12, you can still catch some of the meteors once it's dark, after 9 p.m. You'll see some meteors, but not nearly as many as during the early morning peak hours.

If clouds, light pollution, or weather interferes with viewing the meteor shower, you can watch it live on NASA's Meteor Watch Facebook page.

Expect to see meteors all over the sky, but NASA says it's best if you follow this pro tip:

Remember to let your eyes become adjusted to the dark (it takes about 30 minutes) – you’ll see more meteors that way. Try to stay off of your phone too, as looking at devices with bright screens will negatively affect your night vision and hence reduce the number of meteors you see!"

Why are these meteors called "Perseid?"

NASA explains:

All meteors associated with one particular shower have similar orbits, and they all appear to come from the same place in the sky, called the 'radiant.' Meteor showers take their name from the location of the radiant. The Perseid radiant is in the constellation Perseus. Similarly, the Geminid meteor shower, observed each December, is named for a radiant in the constellation Gemini."