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Viewer's guide to meteor showers

Aug. 9, 2012, 12:12 p.m.
Geminid shower as seen through sculptures in

Photo: ZUMA Press

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Sit back and enjoy the show

The Perseid meteor shower will be at its annual peak this weekend. 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, they are dubbed meteorites. Pictured here are sculptures as seen under a star-filled sky over Qingdao city, east China's Shandong province.


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. also offers this handty advice: "Avoid looking at your cellphone 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. (Text: Katherine Butler)