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Outburst of Perseid meteors possible Thursday night, Friday morning

An outburst of Perseid meteors lights captured in a time-lapse image in August 2009.
An outburst of Perseid meteors lights captured in a time-lapse image in August 2009. (NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

The Perseid meteor shower typically offers one of the year's best displays of "shooting stars" each August, but this year, it could be even better than usual.

An outburst of hundreds of Perseid meteors is possible this year when the annual shower peaks late Thursday night and early Friday morning.

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The meteors are actually the burning dust and debris left in the wake of the Comet Swift-Tuttle, and in most years, Earth grazes the edge of that trail. But this year, it is expected to pass closer to the middle, likely making the show more intense, according to NASA.

That could mean as many as 200 meteors per hour between midnight and dawn Friday. The best time to look is in the pre-dawn hours, after the moon sets around 12:30 a.m. and before the morning twilight.

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To spot them, simply lie back, let your eyes adjust to the darkness and look up. It's best to get as far from urban light pollution as possible.

You don't need to look in any particular corner of the sky, though the meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, which will be in the northeastern sky at midnight and the middle of the sky by dawn.

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