Every year the Perseids meteor shower lights up the sky in the northern hemisphere as the oldest meteor shower known to modern mankind. In fact, the Perseids have been seen from Earth for over 2,000 years. Thanks to this year’s new moon the sky was pitch black, allowing the most dazzling display of all to occur with around 100 meteors visible every hour.
Every August people from all walks of life stay up late to catch the beautiful light show. For the best view this year, NASA recommended looking toward the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus in the northeastern region of the sky. The peak time for viewing was said to be around 4am on Thursday, although in some places cloudy skies made it hard for many to actually see it.
The magnificent light show is the result of space debris from the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet as it enters Earth’s atmosphere. The Swift-Tuttle comet orbits the sun once every 133 years, but every August the Earth moves through a cloud of the debris created by the comet.
NASA explains that these small bits of comet dust enter our atmosphere at 37 miles per second, or 133,000 MPH. On impact the dust disintegrates producing the gorgeous meteor showers that light up the sky.
If you missed this year’s Perseids meteor shower there is always next year. But until then, enjoy looking at these stunning photos taken from around the world of the 2015 epic display of lights.