By Todd Richissin
The Perseid meteor shower 2013 peak is a few days off and you may be able to get a good look at the show already, if the skies cooperate.The Perseid meteor shower is a big one. And this year's show peak times will have a crescent moon, and the weather forecast for the Perseids over Bel Air on should tell you whether you can get a preview of the peak.
Monday's forecast is less ideal, with cloud cover expected into the night.
How spectacular is the show? NASA says Perseid rates can get as high as 100 visible meteors per hour, with many of them appearing not just as bright streaks but as fireballs hurtling through the sky.
The Perseids are the offspring of the comet Swift-Tuttle. We see the meteors when the Earth passes through the comet'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.
You can see the shower anywhere in the sky, but look toward the southeastern sky to see the meteors at their brightest and longest.Where to watch in Prince George's County? For starters: the darker the area the better.
- Generally, head to the south-eastern part of the county. It's much less densely populated and has many nice dark spots for stargazing.
- If you can't do that, we have it on good authority that some of the best places to head to in Maryland's inner-Beltway area might be the McKeldin Mall at the University of Maryland and Northway Fields in Greenbelt.
- The Astronomical Society of Greenbelt is hosting a Star Watching Party on Aug. 10. Though a day before the peak, there should be plenty of Perseids to go around.
As always, check for posted hours of public places, and make sure you're not trespassing before setting up shop to gawk at the fireworks of the universe.
Where do you watch in Prince George's County? Tell us in the comments below.