Look up: Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend

Image 1 of 4

The peak of the Perseid meteor shower is this weekend and it's expected to be the best of the year.

According to NASA, the meteor shower peaks from 4 p.m. (EDT) on the August 12 until 4 a.m. on the August 13. The best viewing times are a few hours after twilight, up until dawn, on days surrounding the peak.

The new moon falls on the peak night, so the days before and after the peak will also be spectacular.

Meteor showers are caused by dust breaking off of a comet. When the pieces of debris heat up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. As they burn, they create a bright burst of light across the sky - traveling at about 37 miles-per-second.

Most meteor showers have a short peak, but the Perseid has a very broad peak because it takes three weeks for Earth to get through the trail of cometary dust of the Swift-Tuttle comet. 

If you know your constellations, look for Perseus in the northern sky, soon after sunset this time of year. Even if you're a casual observer, you should be able to look up and see 60-70 meteors per hour during the peak.

In Pasco County, Jack Brockhurst may be considered more than a casual observer. He has been building telescopes to observe planets and stars.

He's also the founder of Pasco Astronomers. Once a month, space enthusiasts break out their telescopes and stargaze at Starkey Wilderness Park, which is free and open to the public.

The group will certainly be heading out for the Perseid meteor shower. They say the further you are from artificial lights, the better the view will be.

Brockhurst recommends, "Go out on your front lawn with a blanket on the ground and to look up, that's the best way."

If you plan to try and see the show, just remember to bring your patience, and probably some bug spray. Here are some great ways to experience the meteor shower in the Bay Area:

There is a Night Walk from 8 until 10 p.m. Saturday at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park in Bushnell.

Go stargazing at Starkey Wilderness Park in New Port Richey from 8 until 10 p.m. Saturday with the Pasco Astronomers.

Withlacoochee River Park in Dade City is considered a Dark Sky Site and has camping options.

Adding to the intrigue of the night skies is NASA's launch of the Parker Solar Probe, which will go straight into the sun's crown, an atmospheric region so hot, any normal visitor would quickly burn up.

The launch from Cape Canaveral was set to take place early Saturday morning but was pushed to Sunday due to technical issues.