In years past, the Perseid meteor showers have dominated August skies. This year, however, they'll be a bit tamed down -- thanks to a brightly lit supermoon and rainfall across much of the US.
The Perseid showers are known for dazzling shows of more than 100 meteors per hour. The celestial displays are mostly visible in the Northern Hemisphere, although they can still be seen in the Southern Hemisphere.
The annual showers are so stunning that Google even dedicated one of its Google Doodles to the meteor shower on Tuesday. The web giant honored the Perseid to "encourage users to learn more about this fantastic celestial event," Google Doodle artist Sophie Diao wrote in a blog post.
This year's Perseid showers peak on Tuesday night, August 12 to 13, which means that the nearly full moon will block out a lot of the viewing. But, it's still worth it to take a gander at night skies, says NASA.
The best visibility this year should afford up to 30 to 40 meteors per hour. While far fewer than 100 per hour, this is still double the amount of the usual Delta Aquarid showers, which peaked last month. Lower visibility zones in the Southern Hemisphere should still garner up to 10 meteors per hour. The best time to see the showers is between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. local time.
"The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years," NASA wrote in a blog post. "Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet's debris. These bits of ice and dust -- most over 1,000 years old -- burn up in the Earth's atmosphere to create one of the best meteor showers of the year."
Those people who would rather watch from inside can view NASA's live chat and Ustream video on August 12 at 8 p.m. PT.