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The Perseid meteor shower is expected to be extra spectacular this year

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Head out of the city and look up.

The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak Thursday into Friday, NASA says, and it's expected to be more spectacular than normal.

“Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double normal rates on the night of Aug. 11-12,” Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office said. “Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour.”

The Perseids (named after the constellation Perseus) show up every year in August as Earth passes through trails of debris left by the Swift-Tuttle comet. When "comet-stuff" hits Earth's atmosphere, it disintegrates in flashes of light, which can be seen from Earth, NASA says.

Typically Earth passes through the edge of the comet's trail, so there's not a ton to see – about 50 to 100 shooting stars an hour, the Washington Post says.

But sometimes Jupiter's gravity pulls the comet's dust trail closer, and Earth goes through the middle where there are more particles, "setting the stage for a spectacular display," NASA explains. It's expected to be one of those years.

The last Perseid outburst was in 2009.

Planning to watch?

Go outside early Friday morning, between midnight and dawn. Get away from city lights, and give your eyes about 45 minutes to adjust to the dark, NASA says.

Then lie on your back and look up. says look about two-thirds of the way from the horizon to the zenith – let your eyes wander so you can pick up meteors with your peripheral vision that you may otherwise miss.

Here are some more tips on viewing a meteor shower:

Thunderstorms likely

The bad news is thunderstorms are likely Thursday night in the Twin Cities and northeastern Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service.

But you can still see the meteor shower – NASA will broadcast the meteor shower live starting at 9 p.m. Watch it here. The Perseids may also be visible Wednesday night and Friday night, but just not as strong, NASA says.

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