Look Up

If you have any way to get out of the city this weekend, do it. If there's any chance you can take off work on Monday, take it. Slurp down a couple of double espressos Sunday night, throw a couple of blankets in the car and get as far away from the polluting lights of the city as you can.

Earth is in the midst of its intersection with the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet is far away, but the dust it leaves in its path is not. Sunday night marks the peak of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, the biggest and most spectacular shower of the year. This year should be a memorable one, as the meteor shower's peak coincides with a new moon. The sky will be dark and the cosmos will put on a fireworks show better than the 4th of July.

As Earth passes through the dust cloud left behind by the comet, the dust will enter the upper atmosphere at fantastic speeds. The tiny bits of cosmic debris will ignite, leaving spectacular trails of light across the sky. At the absolute peak, before dawn on Monday morning, there could be a meteor a minute.

If you have the chance, drive way way out, as far from the city as you can reasonably get. Throw one blanket across the hood of the car, bundle up in the other as necessary, turn towards the east - the meteors will appear to originate from the constellation Perseus, in the eastern sky, just above red light of Mars - lay back on your blanket, look up, and watch the show.