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August is one of the best times of year to look for shooting stars, when the annual Perseid meteor shower makes its appearance in the northern hemisphere.

The shower begins in late July and lasts for about a month, usually peaking on the night of August 12 to 13. This article, written for a general audience, gives tips on when, where, and how to look for shooting stars.

You have some chance of seeing a shooting star on any clear night of the year. The Earth is pelted constantly by bits of space debris that bum up when they enter our atmosphere, becoming meteors that streak across the sky. But your chances of seeing a shooting star — or two, or three, or more — rise sharply in the first half of August, when the Perseid meteor shower puts on its annual show.

The Perseids begin in late July and last for about a month, usually peaking on the night of August 12 to 13.

Obviously, you need a cloudless sky to see shooting stars. You’ll also see more meteors on nights when there’s no moon. Still, the Perseids are plentiful enough and bright enough that some can be seen even when they have to compe with moon glow.

Here are some tips to optimize your meteor-watching:

  • Get away from man-made lights…
  • Don’t try to look for meteors with a telescope or binoculars…
  • Don’t fix your eyes on a single point in the sky….
  • Give your eyes plenty of time to time to adjust to the dark…
  • Make yourself comfortable….
  • Be patient. Although the term “meteor shower” suggests stars falling like rain, only the most extraordinary showers are anything like that. Even with good viewing conditions, you’re more likely to see just a single shooting star every few minutes. That may not sound like much, but anyone who’s seen a meteor paint a shimmering trail against the black velvet of a summer sky will agree that it’s a sight to remember — and a spectacle worth staying up late on an August night to see.

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