August 12, 2009--
A meteor slices through the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower
on August 11, 2009, over Vinton, California.
The Perseid meteor shower, like all meteor showers, happens when debris from a passing comet gets left behind in that object's orbit around the sun. When Earth passes through the debris, tiny particles get incinerated in our atmosphere.
(Related: "Perseid Meteor Shower to Yield 80 Meteors an Hour?"
Rates during the Perseids' peak, which will occur early this afternoon in the United States
, may approach a hundred meteors an hour. Normally the Perseids fall at a peak rate of about 70 or 80 an hour.
That means people who missed the Perseids last night might still be in for a treat with tonight's sky show.
Photograph by Kevin Clifford, AP