What You Need to Know About This Week’s Meteor Shower

The Perseids are about to grace the sky.

Earthlings, you’re in for a treat.

It’s the time of the Perseid meteor shower, an annual event where celestial balls of fire shoot across the night sky. The dazzling show will take place from Thursday through Saturday, and is expected to peak from late Thursday night into early Friday morning. This year’s event is set to be a showstopper—as long as you can wake up to see it. Here’s what you need to know.

The Perseid meteor shower is actually just a bunch of debris.

The Perseids appear for a few days every August. Each individual meteor is a piece of a comet called the Swift-Tuttle. When the Earth comes into contact with the Swift-Tuttle’s debris every year, little pieces “disintegrate into flashes of light,” according to NASA. These flashes of light appear to fly out of the constellation Perseus, named for the Greek mythic hero.

This year’s shower is called an “outburst.”

The head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, Bill Cooke, told NPR that Perseid meter showers usually have between 80 and 100 meteor showers per hour. This year, though, has been dubbed an “outburst” because it’ll have an unusually high number of meteors—between 160 and 200, to be exact. Double the meteors means double the pretty lights.

Don’t get your hopes up—clouds might wreck your chance at seeing a glittering show.

Unfortunately for parts of New England, cloudy skies and rain are in the forecast for Friday and Saturday. Even a partly cloudy outlook might make waking up early (or staying up very late) not entirely worth it. There’s a slim chance of precipitation from Thursday into Friday, which is the peak time to see the show. A word to the wise? Don’t dilly dally—dare to watch the peak show (hopefully rain-free) or you might not see it at all.

It will be harder to see the shower in the city.

Bostonians know the drill. Beautiful feats of nature have no place in the city. The light pollution prevents A+ views, so it’d be worth your while to travel a few miles outside of Boston. If you can’t take a trip at dawn, you can still watch the shower online at UStream.

No matter where you are, let your eyes adjust to the darkness.

Clouds and city lights aside, for the best viewing, head outside a little early. Your eyes need time to adjust to the dark, and when they do, you’ll have the potential to see more of the sky’s vast canvas.