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Watch the Perseid meteor shower peak this week

The Perseids, one of the year's best meteor showers, peak this week. And they could be even more brilliant than usual, thanks to some good timing.

The meteors, which are pieces of dust and debris left in the trail of the Comet Swift-Tuttle, will be most numerous in the hours between midnight and dawn early Thursday morning. As many as 50 meteors per hour could be visible in areas far from urban light pollution, according to EarthSky.org.

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The moon can also often outshine the dimmest of the Perseids, but it won't interfere this year. With a new moon on Friday, the sky will be near its darkest in the monthly lunar cycle when the meteor shower peaks.

Other mornings leading up to the Wednesday night/Thursday morning peak could also be good for spotting meteors, as Earth moves toward the densest part of the comet's trail. The comet is on a 133-year orbit around the sun.

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Most of the meteors are only the size of a grain of sand, but the force of their impact on Earth's atmosphere heats up the air around them enough to make streaks of light shoot across the sky. The Perseids are also known for a significant number of fireballs, the term for particularly large and bright meteors.

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