The Perseid meteor shower will light up Missouri skies this week

Image via NASA

Stargazers will be in for a spectacular treat early this week as the Perseid meteor shower peaks across the northern hemisphere Monday through Wednesday. This annual meteor shower is known to many as one of the best and brightest of the year.

What causes this amazing show in the sky?

Every year between the middle of July and the middle of August, the Earth intersects the orbit of the comet "Swift-Tuttle". Behind the comet, debris is left in it's place. This debris and dust crash into Earth's upper-atmosphere at over 140,000 mph creating an amazing show in the sky.

Image via NASA.

Skywatchers will be able to see anywhere from 50 to 100 meteors each hour for the next few nights. The best time to view the meteors will be toward morning. The further north you are, the more you have the potential to see.
The waning gibbous moon could make it a bit more difficult to view the meteors than in years past. The waning gibbous is the phase of the moon just after it is full -- in this case, the August "Supermoon". Light contamination from the near full moon will wash out some of the meteors as they enter Earth's atmosphere.

The forecast for the next few nights is mostly clear with cool temperatures.. so conditions will be optimal for viewing the meteor shower.