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Perseids Meteor Shower To Light Up The Sky Sunday Night

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A meteor enters the earth's atmosphere during the Perseid meteor shower early on August 13, 2009 in the northeastern village of Rotbuehl in Switzerland. The earth passed through the densest part of the dusty debris stream from Comet Swift-Tuttle / 109P in the night from August 12 to 13 2009. AFP PHOTO / Sebastian Derungs (Photo credit should read SEBASTIAN DERUNGS/AFP/Getty Images)

A meteor enters the earth’s atmosphere during the Perseid meteor shower early on August 13, 2009 in the northeastern village of Rotbuehl in Switzerland. The earth passed through the densest part of the dusty debris stream from Comet Swift-Tuttle / 109P in the night from August 12 to 13 2009. AFP PHOTO / Sebastian Derungs (Photo credit should read SEBASTIAN DERUNGS/AFP/Getty Images)

John Cody. John Cody
John Cody is a veteran reporter for Newsradio 780.
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CHICAGO (CBS) – A free light show is on tap tonight, weather permitting, just above the horizon – as little pieces of a comet streak through Earth’s atmosphere.

The Perseids are little pieces of comet Swift-Tuttle running into earth’s atmosphere, creating an annual meteor shower.

“Those little bits of debris rain into the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of about 130,000 miles an hour. Most of them just entirely burn up very high in the atmosphere, and make streaks of light that we see as a meteor shower,” said Adler Planetarium astronomer Mark Hammergren.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

The comet itself orbits the Sun once every 133 years. However, pieces of it speed through the Earth’s atmosphere every year, creating the Perseids meteor shower.

Hammergren said it’s kind of a slow-motion shower – maybe one streak per minute for an experienced viewer, with a clear sky, and dark surroundings.

For the average sky watcher in a major city like Chicago, “as your skies are brighter, because of light pollution, or if you just spend less time out there, and don’t get your eyes fully dark adapted, you won’t see as many. So it might be a few minutes, or even ten minutes, between seeing these meteors.”

Astronomers at the Adler will help the public see the meteor shower from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Catigny Park in Wheaton.

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