The annual Perseid meteor shower is set to peak on Thursday night and has already caused a fireball. The display took place 70 miles above Paint Rock, Alabama when a meteor just one inch in diameter hit the Earth’s atmosphere are 134,000 miles per hour, causing a spectacular demise.
According to NASA, the meteor was six times brighter than Venus. It entered the atmosphere at a low angle which, combined with the velocity, meant it moved 65 miles across the sky before finally burning up.
The Perseid meteors are created when the Earth passes close to the orbit of a comet named Swift-Tuttle. This happens every August, and the photo above is of last year’s shower.
Debris from the comet, mainly ice and dust, burns up in the atmosphere. The meteors come from the same direction as the Perseus constellation, hence the name.
NASA is predicting that, clear weather permitting, the peak of the shower will feature at least 80 meteors per hour.
If you want to know more about the shower, NASA astronomer Bill Cooke is holding a webchat at 3pm (EDT) on Thursday, Aug. 12