Missourians can see an outburst of shooting stars in the sky Thursday night and Friday night. University of Missouri astronomer Dr. Angela Speck says the annual meteor shower – known as Perseids – will be most active from midnight to dawn.

Photo courtesy of NASA's website

Photo courtesy of NASA’s website

“Because of where Jupiter is with respect to the path of this dust, it’s been pulled so that it’s in a slightly different place. We’re passing through the middle of it, so we get a much stronger show,” says Speck. “More little rocks are going to come and hit the atmosphere, so we will see more shooting stars. That’s what makes the Perseids this year so much more spectacular than they have been before.”

Speck recommends finding a dark place where there are no city lights.

“I think often people get this idea that it’s like a firework and you get hundreds all at once. It’s never like that,” says Speck. “Normally, if you’re getting as many as one a minute, you’re doing well. I think for this one we are expecting more like two a minute.”

Speck says a telescope or binoculars won’t be necessary.

“If you’ve got something that’s fairly stationary that you just want to look at fairly closely, then binoculars or a telescope are great, but it’s actually very hard to track because you’re trying to watch something that’s moving very fast and you don’t know exactly where it’s going to be,” says Speck.

Speck says the meteors are just in the atmosphere and won’t hit the ground. The particles would be comparable in size to a grain of sand. Speck says that’s not likely to cause significant damage if they were to hit the ground.