<p><strong>A shooting star from the <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/08/090812-perseids-perseid-meteor-shower.html">Perseid meteor shower</a> streaks above rock formations in Hungary Wednesday. The Perseids<a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/08/090812-perseids-perseid-meteor-shower.html"> </a>peak this weekend, and thanks to relatively dark skies, the 2012 edition of the annual sky show should be well suited to naked-eye stargazing. (See <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/08/120810-perseid-meteor-shower-perseids-science-space-astronomy/">"Perseid Meteor Shower—And Moon Flashes—Peaks Saturday."</a>)</strong></p><p>At their most visible late Saturday night and before dawn Sunday this year, the Perseids occur when Earth and the moon pass through a cloud of rocky particles shed by<a href="http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/solar-system/asteroids-comets-article/"> comet</a> Swift-Tuttle.</p><p>Hitting the atmosphere at speeds of almost a hundred thousand miles (160,000 kilometers) an hour, the meteoroids burn up, producing streaks of light—meteors, or shooting stars—each lasting just a fraction of a second.</p><p>(Related:<a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/08/photogalleries/100811-perseid-meteor-shower-pictures-perseids-science-space-astronomy/"> "Perseid Pictures: Meteor Shower Dazzles Every August."</a>)</p><p><em></em></p><p><em>—With reporting by <a href="https://plus.google.com/100694619156012691198">Andrew Fazekas</a></em></p>

Rock Star

A shooting star from the Perseid meteor shower streaks above rock formations in Hungary Wednesday. The Perseids peak this weekend, and thanks to relatively dark skies, the 2012 edition of the annual sky show should be well suited to naked-eye stargazing. (See "Perseid Meteor Shower—And Moon Flashes—Peaks Saturday.")

At their most visible late Saturday night and before dawn Sunday this year, the Perseids occur when Earth and the moon pass through a cloud of rocky particles shed by comet Swift-Tuttle.

Hitting the atmosphere at speeds of almost a hundred thousand miles (160,000 kilometers) an hour, the meteoroids burn up, producing streaks of light—meteors, or shooting stars—each lasting just a fraction of a second.

(Related: "Perseid Pictures: Meteor Shower Dazzles Every August.")

—With reporting by Andrew Fazekas

Photograph by Tamas Ladanyi, TWAN

Perseid Pictures: Meteors With Aurora, Seen From Space, More

Sneak a peek at what you might see this weekend, when the Perseid meteor shower peaks with roughly two shooting stars a minute.

Read This Next

Grief drove a photographer to India. She found joy.
Why do we age?
What causes earthquakes?

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet