What you need to know to see this weekend's big meteor shower

Perseid meteor activity 2013 in Ontario Canada

It's the biggest meteor shower of the year, so you better stay up late and grab your binoculars.

However, according to NASA, the night before August 11-12, will also be stunning.

The comet Swift-Tuttle is the largest object that repeatedly passes earth.

Even though this may be somewhat of a down year, the Perseids still typically are one of the best meteor shows of the year.

Such an adjustment occurs every 11 years or so, when Jupiter makes its closest approach to the Swift-Tuttle debris cloud, at a distance of about 160 million miles (257 million kilometers). "Most particles are about the size of a small rock or beach sand, and they weigh just about 1-2 grams (roughly the same as a paperclip)".

The shooting stars will appear to come from a single point, or "radiant", situated in the constellation Perseus, that climbs higher as the night progresses.

When is the best time to see the meteor shower?

Your rooftop may not be the best solution, especially if you're in downtown (you need to get as far away from light pollution as possible).

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The ideal time for meteor-spotting is when the sky is at its darkest; between 1am and the onset of dawn twilight.

In the past, the Perseid showers have produced such spectacular displays that people swamped radio stations with reports of a mysterious light in the sky.

If you happen to be in a light-pollution-free area with nice weather, you'll probably be able to see about 60 or 70 meteors streaking through the moonless sky, according to NASA estimates.

To make the best of the meteors, observers should avoid built-up areas and try to find an unobstructed view to the east. So you can definitely catch them in advance.

"Relax, be patient, and let your eyes adapt to the darkness", Kelly Beatty, Sky & Telescope senior editor said in a statement. Best of all, constellations and the Milky Way should be highly visible due to a New Moon on August 11, meaning there will not be as much light to drown out the stars.

Every 133 years or so, the massive Swift-Tuttle comet careens through our solar system at 150 times the speed of sound, spreading a dirty trail of ice, dust and sundry space schmutz behind it.

Good visibility is in the forecast for both nights.

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