Viewer's guide to meteor showers
Thu, Aug 09 2012 at 12:12 PM
On Aug. 12 the Perseids meteor shower will be at its annual peak. It is but one consequence of the 100 tons of dust and sand-sized particles that bombard the Earth every day. As the debris travels through the Earth's atmosphere and vaporizes, it provides us with light phenomena known as shooting stars. If the bits and pieces outlast their fiery journey and hit the Earth's surface, then they are dubbed meteorites.
The best way to catch a meteor shower is to use your naked eyes, as a telescope or binoculars will limit the amount of sky you can see. Pick a dark patch of the sky, but don't focus on one spot. Space.com continues with this advice: "Avoid looking at your cell phone or any other light. Both destroy night vision. If you have to look at something on Earth, use a red light."
Here's a look at a few annual meteor showers and what we've learned from them through the years.