August 09, 2016

The annual Perseid meteor shower will be lighting up the night's sky Thursday night around midnight through sunrise Friday.

Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images

And 2016 is expected to be a banner year for the August event: The International Meteor Organization estimates that the peak on Thursday night could have 150 meteors per hour, up from the Perseids' more typical 50-100 an hour.

The trick to seeing the meteor shower is not especially tricky—you just have to be somewhere dark, and the darker the better. The more light pollution around you, the fewer meteors you're likely to see.

“When [astronomers] quote a number, that assumes you are in a place that has very little light pollution, and that’s now almost impossible to find on the East Coast,” John Barentine, program manager at the International Dark Sky Association, told the Washington Post.

If you'd like to find an ideal place to view the meteor shower, look for a dark sky place with the association's finder.

If you're only able to partially escape urban or suburban light, you can expect to see fewer—possibly much fewer—meteors, to the tune of one every few minutes.

To get the best show, NASA recommends finding an area “well away from city or street lights, and if you want, set up where you are shadowed from the moon's glare before it sets.”

“Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair. Face whatever direction you like, the one unobstructed by trees, buildings or moonlight. Look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible,” NASA suggests. “After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt, and you will begin to see fainter objects, including meteors. Be patient; the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.”

The name of the Perseids comes from the constellation Perseus, the point in the sky where the meteors appear to come from. However, Perseus is not where the meteors come from: That would be the Swift-Tuttle comet, identified by Giovanni Schiaparelli as the source in 1865.

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