The annual Perseid meteor shower (search) hits its peak above Northwest skies Thursday evening, and it will be at its best when the moon sets after 11 p.m.

Viewers might be able to see more than 60 meteors per hour between midnight and dawn away from city lights.

The two-week shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus (search), because the meteors appear to emanate from a point — called the radiant — within Perseus.

Viewers should find a dark site with a wide view of the sky, lie back on a reclining chair and gaze straight up, advises Jim Todd, planetarium director for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Mars (search), too, will join the celestial show when it rises in the east about a half-hour before midnight. Mars will be shining like a bright red star as it moves toward the south in the early morning hours.