Perseid meteor

A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky in 2009. (Andreas Möller/Wikimedia Commons / August 10, 2012)

One of the year's best chances to see a meteor shower is this weekend, as the Earth passes through the trail of debris behind a comet.

They are called the Perseid meteors, named because they appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus. Earth passes through Comet Swift-Tuttle's orbit around this time every year, and when the small rocks hit our atmosphere, they appear as stars streaking across the sky.

The Perseids will peak in the wee hours of Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings, so look to the skies after midnight tonight and for the next two nights. Perseus is a relatively faint constellation and will first appear in the northeast sky, but finding it isn't necessary, as the meteors will appear all over the sky, according to this post from EarthSky.org. Here are more viewing tips from Space.com.

Jeff Marx, a physics professor at McDaniel College in Westminster, recommends viewing from a chair that reclines or a blanket on the ground, because while the meteors are expected to peak at as many as 60 per hour, meteor-watching can involve a lot of waiting.

"Just when you look away to relieve your neck, that's when someone sees a meteor," Marx said.

Even if you miss the fast streaks of light, the meteors leave behind a glow that is called a "persistent trail," Marx said.

Skies are forecast to be partly cloudy for most of the weekend, so there is a good chance the weather won't spoil the show. Good luck viewing -- and share your experiences on the blog by e-mail or Twitter!

Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.