How do you watch a meteor shower? Step one: Find yourself a clear, dark sky. Two, pour a cool summer beverage. Three, find a lawn chair, sit and drink aforementioned beverage.
Finally, look up.
We get not only fireworks on the Fourth of July but also nature's fireworks in mid-August. You can check out the Perseid -- pronounced "PURR-see-id" -- meteor shower Saturday night. This shower appears to emanate from the Perseus constellation, hence the name.
Although the Perseids loiter in our heavens from July 25 through Aug. 20, these shooting stars peak this weekend. You can start looking up late Saturday night. If you are lucky, you'll observe a handful of meteors dart across the cosmos.
You'll probably see more after midnight, in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
The International Meteor Organization and "The Observer's Handbook 2012" explain that the zenithal hourly rate is about 90 to 100 meteors each hour. Although you'll never see that many, be happy with a few.
The shower supposedly will peak Sunday at 4 a.m. ADT.
Meteors are nothing but a trail of cosmic dust left by comets. On its annual tour around the sun, Earth smacks into these trails. The debris strikes our atmosphere and burns brightly, and we see the resulting streaks. Comet Swift-Tuttle leaves the trail that causes the Perseid meteors. The dust trail is a "middle-age stream, still fairly compact," Neil Bone says in his book "Meteors."
Bone explains that these bits of dust are small, like the size of a grain of sand or instant coffee granules. These tiny pieces have little structural integrity and burn easily when they strike our upper atmosphere.