Moon Aims to Thwart Friday's Meteor-Watching Fun

This Friday night will mark what's usually the brightest meteor showers of the year -- but this year, a nearly full moon could make it challenging.

The Perseid meteor showers will be most visible around Friday night into early Saturday, with the peak around 3 a.m., but you might see some Thursday night and Saturday night as well.

You'll have to get away from city lights to have the most luck, but unfortunately, we're going to have nearly full moon which will lighten the sky so you'll only see the brightest.

You'll also need patience. According to, you can usually spot more than one per minute under clear, dark skies. Thanks a lot, almost-full moon.

Next year will probably offer a better shot. The Perseids happen each year around this time, as the Earth passes through the remnants of the tail of the Swift-Tuttle Comet. As it does, the Earth encounters small pieces of space dust and rocks. When they hit the atmosphere, they ignite and show up as streaks of light high in the upper atmosphere.

A lot of people think the meteors themselves are moving, but that's not the case, said NBC Washington meteorologist Tom Kierein. In fact, the Earth and its atmosphere are slamming into them at 67,000 mph. Most burn up in the upper atmosphere, but some do make it all the way down.

NASA will host a live Web chat about the Perseids on Friday, Aug. 12 at 11 p.m. You can join the chat here.

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