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Perseid meteor shower: Coming soon to a sky near you

Perseid meteor shower: Beloved by skywatchers, 2013 will be an excellent one for the Perseid meteor shower. The moon will set before midnight on the peak Perseids nights.

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Among these are the southern Delta Aquarids, which can produce faint, medium-speed meteors; the Alpha Capricornids, described as bright yellowish meteors  and the Kappa Cygnids, which sometimes produce fireballs.  As such, if you stay out and watch long enough, you may be nicely rewarded for your time spent.  

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Note that five of the six showers listed come from the region around the constellations of Aquarius and Capricornus. These constellations are highest in the southern sky between roughly 1 a. m. and 3 a.m. Eastern time. The Kappa Cygnids appear to emanate from the constellation Cygnus, which will appear more or less overhead within an hour of local midnight.

Currently, the one drawback in watching for meteors is a bright gibbous moon, which this weekend will wane to last quarter on Sunday. 

As Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society points out, "the waning gibbous moon will rise later during the evening hours, but will still be in the sky during the more active morning hours, causing considerable interference with meteor viewing."

After Sunday, the moon will diminish to a crescent phase, continuing to wane in both phase and brightness and will become significantly less of a hindrance to viewers as well as rising progressively later in the night.  It will be new on Aug. 5.

Editor's Note: If you have an amazing night sky photo of any celestial sight that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact SPACE.com Managing Editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmer's Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.

Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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