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Perseid meteor shower peaks Aug. 12, but the full Moon may spoil the show

Perseid meteor shower peaks Aug. 12, but the full Moon may spoil the show
In this 30-second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower on Aug. 11, 2021, as seen from Spruce Knob, West Virginia. Photo by NASA/Bill Ingalls

Aug. 5 (UPI) -- The Perseid meteor shower, one of Earth's biggest, is set to peak with best viewing starting Aug. 11.

The annual meteor shower will peak the next day, but this year the full moon may interfere with visibility, according to NASA.

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"Sadly, this year's Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters," NASA astronomer Bill Cooke said in a statement.

"Most of us in North America would normally see 50 or 60 meteors per hour, but this year, during the normal peak, the full Moon will reduce that to 10-20 per hour at best," Cooke said.

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NASA says that as the full Moon subsides, the Perseid meteor shower will wane Aug. 21-22 and stop completely Sept. 1.

Getting away from the light pollution of cities and finding as dark a place as possible between midnight and dawn is the best way to view the meteor shower, they said.

The meteors are debris remnants of Comet Swift-Tuttle, described in a NASA blog as a large "snowball" made of ice, rock and dust. The comet orbits the Sun every 133 years. Earth won't see the comet itself until 2125.

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The annual meteor shower became known as "the Tears of St. Lawrence," named for the last of seven Roman deacons killed by Roman emperor Valerian in 258, according to NASA.

If the full Moon or some other reason keeps people from viewing the Perseid meteor shower, there's a chance to see other meteor showers later in August.

The Capricornids are visible until Aug. 15, Piscus Austrinids are visible until Aug. 10 and the Delta Aquarids run until Aug. 23.

Additionally, the Alpha Capricornids end on Aug. 15, Iota Aquarids can be seen until Aug. 25 and Kappa Cygnids are visible until Aug. 25.

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