This is one of the best times of year for meteor showers as the annual Perseid display takes place and the Northern Hemisphere is the best place to view them.

The Perseids are actually part of a cloud of debris which stretches along the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle; as the comet passes near Earth, the shower becomes visible. Swift-Tuttle has an orbit of 133 years and last entered the inner solar system in 1992, and while it will be on the outer edges of the solar system, the meteor shower should still be impressive.

The Perseids appear from mid-July to the end of August, but mid-August typically offers the best display. While sometimes you can see as many as 150-200 showers an hour, the quality of the viewing depends in large part on lunar activity. The brighter the moon, the more difficult it is to see the meteors.

The area of the sky from which the meteor shoot is called the “radiant.” During the evening hours the radiant is located in the lower northern sky, and while this is a bad time for sheer numbers of meteors, the ones you do see will appear to last longer in the sky, maybe several seconds. As it gets closer to midnight, the radiant rises higher in the northeastern sky. You will start to see more although many will still be hidden beyond the horizon.

As morning approaches, activity will increase. It usually peaks between 3-5 am as the radiant is high in a darkened sky. The absolute peak days will be August 11th-12th with the moon 47% full. As is the case with most sky-watching, experts advise you to find a rural spot away from city lights for best viewing.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.