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Perseid meteor shower peaks Aug. 12 but shooting stars visible now

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Posted at 12:23 PM, Jul 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-31 14:23:44-04

DENVER – As anticipation builds in the days leading up to this month’s total solar eclipse, another astronomical show is taking place in the night sky: The Perseid meteor shower.

The meteor shower takes place every year as Earth passes through the path of Comet Swift-Tuttle. The “shooting stars” we see are pieces of debris burning up as they hit Earth’s atmosphere.

While the shower will reach peak meteor activity on Aug. 12, spotting shooting stars during that time will be a little harder than usual, as the moon will be three quarters full, drowning out some of the fainter meteors. The full moon occurs on Aug. 7.

RELATED: Don't miss 2017's other astronomical events

The good news is the meteor shower is already underway and it lasts until Aug. 24, so you should be able to see some meteors now, if you can find an area with clear skies away from city lights.

Skywatchers can expect to see an average of about 80 meteors per hour, according to Space.com, but meteor rates could be about half that when the moon is bright.

If you miss this month’s meteor shower, don’t worry. The annual Geminid meteor shower will take place in December and the moon should be a little more cooperative then.

For more in-depth information, head over to Space.com.