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Perseids Meteor Shower 2012: Peak Time and Place to Watch in St. Louis Park

The meteor shower will be at its best Saturday night into Sunday.

The Perseids Meteor Shower 2012 can work for you as a cheap date night, especially since it peaks in St. Louis Park on Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

If the clouds cooperate (that means if they stay away), you can see the annual meteor shower any night this week. Space.com tells us these objects are tiny bits of rock and debris from an old comet, which is named Swift-Tuttle after the astronomers who discovered it in 1862.

The shower splashes through the sky every year in early August when Earth passes through the comet Swift-Tuttle's orbit and sweeps up some of this debris. We see shooting stars—rapid streaks of light—as the tiny rocks encounter the thin upper atmosphere of the Earth and the air is heated to incandescence.

For the geeks among us, here's some trivia: The Perseids get their name from Perseus, the constellation from which they seem to emanate, but they can appear anywhere in the sky. Their only connection with Perseus is that, if you trace their path backward across the sky, eventually you get to Perseus.

You can see the shower anywhere in the sky, but look toward the southeastern sky to see the meteors at their brightest and longest.

This bit of advice from Space.com

If you don't see any meteors at first, be patient. This is a meteor shower, not a meteor storm. There will be a lot more meteors than you would see on a normal night, but they will still only come at random intervals, perhaps 20 or 30 in an hour.

When you do see a meteor, it will likely be very fast and at the edge of your field of vision. You may even doubt that what you saw was real. But, when you do see something, watch that area more closely, as two or three meteors often come in groups down the same track.

So where to watch locally? It's best to find an area away from city lights, lay down, and look up. The probably provides the best environment for this, but it closes at sunset, and the meteor shower will probably be most visible as the night goes on.

Other options include Oak Hill Park (and its large sledding hill) or possibly the at Wolfe Park. 

If you're willing to travel, the Onan Observatory at Baylor Regional Park in Noorwood Young America just west of the Twin Cities is an option. The observatory is free to visit, but a parking pass is required to enter the park.

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