The annual Perseid Meteor Shower is going on now, but peaks tonight (Aug. 12)! This is one of those cool events that you can see with the unaided eye, and nearly everyone will be able to see a shooting star or two with enough time and patience.

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower streaks across the nighttime sky in early August, but peaks overnight Aug. 12th. These fast and bright meteors are the result of the Earth passing through the debris left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet (which passes through our system every 140 years or so), frequently leave "trains" (shimmering tails), and astronomers are predicting up to 100 meteors or more per hour.

It truly is one of the best annual meteor showers, primarily to due with the warm summer weather and plethora of shooting stars. Here are a my Top 5 tips to improve your Perseid Meteor Shower viewing:

  • Set Your Expectations - It would be amazing to see the sky filled with giant, slow burning meteors that light up the night. The Perseids, despite being one of the best showers of the year, aren’t quite like that. Think of it this way: don’t go in expecting a torrential downpour; instead it’s much more like a steady spring shower.
  • Dress Appropriately - Dress warmly. Yes, it’s August, but that doesn’t mean shorts and a flip flops. You’ll be outside in the middle of the night and it’s going to get cold. You’re going to want to bring a sweater, perhaps a jacket, and a few blankets to wrap up in.
  • Get Away From Ambient Light Sources - Everything from the street lights, your front porch light, and even the bright screen on your phone can take away from your viewing enjoyment. If you’re eyes have adjusted to the darkness and you look down at your phone screen to check email, your eyes will have to readjust again. Try and find somewhere nice and dark for best enjoyment, and put away your electronic devices (or at least turn the brightness all the way down down). Pro Tip: If you have to check your phone, watch, or use a flashlight, keep one eye closed to protect your night vision.
  • Keep Watching - We are passing through Swift-Tuttle's comet trail as you read this, so Shooting Star activity will ramp up as the week continues, and then taper off toward the weekend. During this year's peak--if you have ideal viewing conditions--astronomers predict up to 100 meteors an hour! Find a comfortable spot, pick a spot in the sky, and just watch.
  • Have Patience - As with nearly every aspect of astronomy, patience is the key. If you don’t see one in the first five minutes, don’t give up. Your eyes need at least 15 to 20 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

Keep your back to the moon (and any other light sources), look for the constellation Cassiopeia (the big ‘W’), and have fun!