Catch a falling star

No, this isn’t about the travails of Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, or even disturbing pictures of Debra Messing – for those you need to check Wizbang Pop!.

Shortly after midnight tonight, though, Earth begins to enter the debris trail of the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 120 years and last passed through in 1992. The significance of this is the leftover material creates one of the biggest annual meteor showers, known as the Perseids for the area in the constellation Perseus from which they appear to originate (although they can appear in any part of the sky at the peak). This should be a good year for viewing.

The peak is expected Sunday night, beginning after midnight, but there will be some tonight as well. Tips on viewing from David Perlman, Science Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Andrew Fraknoi, chairman of astronomy at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, offers these recommendations:

— Get away from lights as much as possible.

— Allow 15 minutes for eyes to adapt to the dark.

— The meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, so try to have a full sky view away from trees and don’t use binoculars.

— Be patient. A shooting star may appear every few minutes.

— Take someone with whom you like to sit in the dark.

Read the whole article at the link above.

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