LE ROUX, FRANCE – Stargazers will be treated to a spectacular fireball show early next week when Earth hits a belt of comet debris known as the Perseids, astronomers say.
The Perseid meteor shower should peak Monday evening in Japan with between 60 and 100 shooting stars per hour.
The Perseids are sand- to pea-size bits of rocky debris ejected by the comet Swift-Tuttle, which is disintegrating. Over the centuries, its remains have spread along its orbit to form a stream of particles hundreds of millions of kilometers long. Earth’s path around the sun crosses the stream every mid-August.
The particles, better known as meteoroids, hit our planet’s atmosphere at about 60 kilometers per second, each igniting in a white-hot streak of superheated air. The Perseid showers produce more fireballs than any other.
They are named after the constellation Perseus, from which they appear to emerge. The earliest observations were recorded in China.