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The annual jaw-dropping display of shooting stars known as the Perseid meteor shower will peak from this Monday night through Tuesday morning.
Most of Maine should be able to see the display, even though a bright moon and forecasts for cloud cover over much of New England may obscure the dimmer stars.
“There should be enough breaks in the clouds to see some of the Perseids on Monday night,” according to AccuWeather, which has a map on its website showing conditions across the country.
“Up to 100 meteors per hour will occur during the peak night,” AccuWeather astronomy b logger Dave Samuhel wrote. “Perseids are not only numerous, they are beautiful. Most of the meteors leave a glittering trail as they pass. They are multi-colored and many are bright.”
The Perseid meteor shower happens each year when the Earth passes through the cloud of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. Small pieces of rock fall toward the Earth and burn up in our atmosphere, producing a dazzling light show. More details on the Perseid meteor show are on EarthSky.org.
The best places to see the meteors, which will fall in the greatest numbers through Monday night into Tuesday morning, are away from bright lights, especially in national or state parks and on beaches. Skygazers should face east and look up.
One of the best places in Maine to see the meteor shower is Acadia National Park.
This Monday the park will host its “Stars Over Sand Beach” event from 9-10 p.m. That event also runs on Saturdays and Thursdays and is free.
Also on Monday, Wells Reserve will host local astronomer Scott Negley to talk about meteors and other astronomical phenomena. The talk, with a suggested donation of $5, will run from 8-9:30 p.m. Afterward, weather permitting, the reserve will hold a star party to watch the meteor shower.
Stargazers should watch local event announcements for meteor viewing parties.
The best time to see the meteors is from midnight through daybreak, when they are most active. However, there are so many meteors that they can be seen during the evening, Samuhel said.
Viewers should avoid looking at their bright mobile phone screen so their eyes can adjust to the dark to see more of the dimmer meteors.
Those wanting to kick back at home and leave it to the experts can check out Space.com, which will livestream the peak shower starting at 9 p.m. Monday night.
AccuWeather’s Samuhel said there are still plenty of the Perseids to be seen over the next couple nights leading up to the peak, and there will be less moonlight to interfere with viewing.