View of meteor streaking over Trona Pinnacles near Death Valley, CA during the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, August 2, 2019.
As the comet travels on its 133-year orbit, debris crashes into our atmosphere at 212,000 kilometres per hour and reaches temperatures of 3,000 to 10,000 degrees. Most of the shooting stars you see actually come from pebbles the size of a grain of rice or smaller.
The meteors are dust from Comet Swift-Tuttle, and they appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, hence the name. It is visible in July and August but most visible in August.
The best views of the Perseids will be available for those in the Northern Hemisphere, the only catch being that seeing the meteor show requires people staying up late or getting up very early in the morning.
As with allmeteor showers, it's smart to carve out a chunk of time to kick back and watch the night sky. First, the moon will be almost full so bright moonlight will make it harder to see anything.
Next year, 2020 should provide for some better viewing for the Perseids.
"But if you see a fireball, it's probably bigger", says Bill Cooke, who leads NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. Its nucleus measures 16 miles across, that's more than twice the size of the one scientists believe killed off the dinosaurs according to NASA.
According to EarthySky.org, most meteors will likely fall in the predawn hours on Tuesday, Aug. 13.
Under ideal conditions, the Perseids can produce up to 80 or 100 bright meteor streaks an hour.
For best viewing, NASA recommends going away from bright city lights to darker areas.
Even though meteors have parallel motions and are visible anywhere in the sky, they appear to emanate from a specific region in the sky called the radiant.
Look up and give your eyes about 30 minutes to adjust; then you'll be able to see the show.