While a falling meteorite can be seen any night of the year, it's this weekend when the sky puts on a show as the Earth passes through the stream of the comet. "The average particle size is that of large sand grain but some small pea gravel-size meteors can cause bright fireballs that light up the sky and ground", he continued.
The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus because that's where the point from which they appear to originate, called the radiant, is located. People can look directly overhead to see the meteors, as long as they are in a dark area without too much light pollution.
Comet Swift-Tuttle - photographed here on April 4, 1892 (top) and April 6, 1892 (bottom) - whizzes through our solar system every 133 years, leaving a trail of dust and debris behind it.
Swift-Tuttle measures a massive 16 miles, and last passed by Earth in 1992.
The best time to view the Perseids is around midnight and during the early hours of the morning - up until 5.30am - when light pollution is at its lowest.
For skywatchers in the northern hemisphere, experts recommend watching for the meteor shower after 10 pm local time, but it will be at its best during the early hours of dawn. "This major shower takes place during the lazy, hazy days of summer, when many families are on vacation", McClure said. The moon will also not be an issue this year with only a crescent moon appearing. For these extra sparkly Perseid years, you can thank one of our obtrusive cosmic neighbors: Jupiter. So that's the part of the sky you should anchor your meteor search from, but they will scatter across the sky as shooting stars from there.
At the meteor shower's speak on the night of August 12, you can expect to see between 60 to 70 meteors every hour.
You might be able to catch a handful or maybe even a dozen meteors per hour in the weeknights leading up to the main event that will coincide roughly with the new moon (meaning the moon is absent from the night sky) on Saturday evening.
"If you have seen a few of them you have seen them all", he said. And if you're intrepid enough to travel to a dark sky park, here are some of the absolute best in the United States.