Perseid meteor shower: How to watch the best celestial show of the year in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) —This month, one of the best annual meteor showers will give stargazers plenty to look to the sky for.

The Perseid meteor shower will be at its peak from Aug. 11 - 13, with some experts even predicting an "outburst" of meteors this year. The best meteor activity is predicted for overnight Aug. 12.

Fireballs are expected to streak across the sky at a rate of 60-70 meteors per hour, but in outburst years, that rate can jump to about 150-200 meteors an hour.

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"This year the moon will be near new moon, it will be a crescent, which means it will set before the Perseid show gets underway after midnight," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com. "The moon is very favorable for the Perseids this year, and that'll make the Perseids probably the best shower of 2018 for people who want to go out and view it."

Not only will local stargazers enjoy the year's best meteor shower, but visible planets as well: Mars until about 4 a.m. local time, Saturn until about 2 a.m. local time; and Venus and Jupiter until 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., respectively, local time.

How to watch...

Grab a telescope or just use your eyes! Or, if photography is your game, grab a camera!

Be sure to pick a spot far from light pollution. It takes about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness outside of rural areas, according to Space.com. Find somewhere with as much sky as possible.

Prepare to sit for a few hours though. Considering at least a rate of 60-70 meteors an hour, the longer you wait the more you'll see!

The International Dark-Sky Association recommends bringing a compass or basic navigation tool, and solar-safe observation equipment.

Where to watch...

The best time to watch the Perseid shower is before dawn, during the early morning around 4 a.m. local time, but activity is still visible during the late-night hours prior, according to the American Meteor Society.

The great thing about the Perseid shower is it's visible in nearly all directions of the sky. Astronomers suggest you gaze about midway up instead of directly above yourself, according to ASM. Meteors can better be seen streaking across the sky at lower elevations.

The best view of the shower will be from the Northern Hemisphere to the mid-southern latitudes, Space.com says.

Tracking data from meteorshowers.org.

What you're watching...

The Perseid shower is made up of "cosmic garbage" from the comet Swift-Tuttle, the largest known object to annually pass by Earth, according to San Diego's Fleet Science Center. Dirt and dust from the comet trail its path, leaving us down here with a beautiful show every August.

Every flash in the sky you see is a comet hitting Earth's atmosphere. As it connects, the comet and air around it heat up, creating visible light.

One cool fact Fleet points out: These flashes are in a way the "last gasp" of cosmic material, that have formed about 5 million years ago.

Happy stargazing! And if you capture any video or photos, send them along to pictures@10news.com.

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