What the Perseid Meteor Shower Looks Like from Space

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perseif615.jpg

Ron Garan, ISS Expedition 28 Crew, NASA

For the past week, the Perseid Meteor Shower has been crescendoing, and this weekend it will hit its peak. Visible anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere after 11pm, the dusty exhaust of the comet Swift-Tuttle will dance most vividly in the hours just before dawn. Jupiter, Venus, a crescent moon and the bright star Aldebaran will all shine brightest then too, in a moment of astronomical convergence.

The sky might be prettiest Monday night, though. Says NASA's official viewing guide:

On August 13th, with the shower just beginning to wane, the planets put on their best show yet: The 17% crescent moon will pass less than 3 degrees from Venus as Jupiter hovers overhead. Sky watchers say there's nothing prettier than a close encounter between the slender crescent Moon and Venus--nothing, that is, except for the crescent Moon, Venus and a flurry of Perseids.

But it's unlikely to be any prettier than what's above. Last year, aboard the International Space Station, astronuat Ron Garan snapped the above picture of the Perseids. The sole meteor here burns near the center of the picture, to the left of the array of solar power cells, just beneath the green airglow. The star Arcturus shines just above it.

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Robinson Meyer is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers technology.

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