If you've never seen a meteor shower, now's your chance.
Hello and welcome. I'm Jane Houston Jones with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California.
Have you ever wondered what makes these cosmic fireworks?
Meteor showers are just colorful debris of a passing comet or occasionally , the debris from a fragmented asteroid
When a comet nears the sun, its icy surface heats up.
This causes clouds of gas, dirt and dust to be released, forming a tail of debris that can stretch for millions of miles.
As Earth passes near this dusty tail, some of the small dust particles hit our atmosphere.
They burn up and create great celestial fireworks for us to enjoy.
NASA generates meteor shower forecasts to prevent potential hazards to spacecraft that are launching and orbiting Earth.
NASA also monitors these showers to check the accuracy of the forecasts.
This month, you can get excellent views of the Perseid meteor shower.
You won't need a telescope or binoculars. , In fact, meteor showers are best seen with the unaided eye.
You'll see some Perseids all month long -- before and after midnight -- but the real fireworks will appear in the wee hours of Monday, August 13th.
Between 2 and 4 a.m. local time, you may see up to 60 meteors per hour. You'll see more if you can get away from city lights.
Meteor showers are best seen in the hours after midnight.
That's when Earth is facing the direction in which the dust particles are colliding with our atmosphere.
As a bonus for staying up late, you'll get a great view of Mars in the eastern sky.
It won't look really big or bright -- you'll have to wait a few months for that.
For information about this month's lunar eclipse, plus some activities for teachers and students alike, visit education.jpl.nasa.gov and click on the What's Up button.
You can learn about all of NASA's missions at www.nasa.gov.
That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.› View Vodcast