Bay Area residents and visitors tonight can see the annual Perseid meteor shower hit earth's atmosphere with "falling stars."
This year's show may be particularly special because more than the usual amount of dirt and dust, which look like falling stars when they burn up in the earth's atmosphere, will stream into the atmosphere from the comet Swift-Tuttle.
The best time to take in the meteor shower is between midnight and 1 a.m. Friday after the moon sets. Eastern Bay Area cities and rural areas will be the best places to watch the shower because skies are expected to be clear there.
Clouds are expected near San Francisco Bay and over the Peninsula. In the North Bay, skies are forecast to be mostly but not entirely clear, National Weather Service officials said.
The meteor shower may be visible Saturday morning too.
The best way to watch the show is to stand or sit in a wide-open area because the dirt and dust can hit the atmosphere anywhere in the sky.
The comet Swift-Tuttle orbits the sun every 133 years and the comet was last seen from earth in 1992. But as it passes it leaves particles behind, which can be seen each August. The meteors are called Perseids because they appear to come from the constellation Perseus, according to NASA.
The particles heat up and the air heats up around them. What is described as a falling star is actually a hot particle and the hot air around it.
Experts recommend allowing 10 to 15 minutes for the eyes to get adjusted to the dark sky, going without binoculars or a telescope and watching with patience.
Oakland's Chabot Space & Science Center's observation deck will be open from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. Friday for visitors to watch the shower.