In dark, moonless, predawn skies you may see dozens of meteors per hour this week, thanks to the famed Perseid meteor shower. Grains of cosmic sand and gravel shed from Comet Swift-Tuttle will streak across the sky as they vaporize during entry into Earth's atmosphere. Tracing the meteor trails backwards, experienced skygazers will find they converge on the constellation Perseus, thus this annual meteor shower's name. Pictured here is a digitally enhanced view of a Perseid meteor from 1993.
Jimmy Westlake from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was able to capture these two bright Perseid fireballs that fell during a spike of activity between 1:30 and 2:30 MDT on August 12,2009. Moonlight enhances the scene looking out over Stagecoach Lake.
Mila Zinkova in Fremont Peak State Park, California, started looking for Perseids at around 9:30 PM on August 11. The Milky Way and long sparkling meteors made for dazzling scenery. Later though a rising moon would slowly wash them away.
Antonio Finazzi took this picturesque photo in Monte Avaro, Cusio, Italy, on August 12, 2009.
Most of British Columbia was cloudy and rainy, so Yuichi Takasaka decided to drive to Alberta to watch Perseids. It was still cloudy when he arrived at Banff National Park, but luckily the sky opened up for a part of the night.
Kyle Gerstner saw around 15 meteors over the course of the night at Teter Rock in the Flint Hills of Kansas.
It was a perfectly clear and cool summer night in Glad Park, CO (6,700 ft. elevation) augmented by a moonlit meteor shower. Thad V'Soske shot more than 1,400 frames capturing a handful of brilliant meteors.
Tom Taylor caught this shooting star over the aptly named A Shooting Star Inn and Observatory, just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.
A Perseid meteor while observing from hole 10 at the Luvinate Golf Club, near Varese, Italy. On the foreground, the lights are from the Lake of Varese.
Stan Richard enjoyed the night with his daughters seeing quite a few bright meteors and lots of earthgrazers early on. The photos were taken at the Ashton Observatory NE of Des Moines, Iowa, home of the Des Moines Astronomical Society.
Alan Dyer experienced a fabulous night claiming it to be one of the best displays of Perseids in many years. He took this photo at the annual Saskatchewan Summer Star Party in Cypress Hills Provincial Park, Saskatchewan, Canada. About 400 stargazers gathered in the park for a weekend star and party conference.
2009 was one of the best showers John Nordlie has seen, compounded by the lack of light pollution up north where the Milky Way absolutely glows. This shot was taken from the north shore of Lake Superior in Tofte and Grand Marais, Minnesota.
The prolific Perseid meteor shower (an effect of comet Swift-Tuttle) has been observed for 2,000 years. With over 120 per hour, 2009 was an especially good year for stargazers. Here's last year's best pics from SpaceWeather.