The best meteor shower of the year happens this week.
While we get meteor showers throughout the year, this is the one with the most shooting stars.
Go out Tuesday night if you can because that's the night when the meteors will fly across the sky most frequently. Expect to see one about every ten minutes on Tuesday as long as you're in a dark (no lights) area.
Now, you can still go out any night this week, but the shooting stars will happen less frequently. So, you'll just have to wait longer to see one.
The best time to go out is 11:00 P.M. This is when the sky will be at its darkest. At midnight, the half moon rises, adding light to the sky. The darker the night sky, the better you can see the meteor shower.
You can thank the Swift-Tuttle Comet for the light show. As it passes by Earth each year, some of its debris falls down to Earth. Those pieces of rock get burnt up as they fall through our air. The reason this happen is same reason why your hands get warm when you rub them for a minute. Friction creates heat. Get enough friction and you can get enough heat to cause something to catch on fire. This is also why rubbing two sicks together can lead to a fire.
So, as those rock pieces rub against our air as they fall, they get hot enough to burn up, giving us a beautiful light show.
A comet, by the way, is just a rock.
An asteroid is also a rock, but it's a big one. A comet is a much smaller rock by comparison. They often have rock pieces and debris behind them as they travel, causing the tail you see in comet pictures. The tail is also there because it's basically a cloud. When you look up during the day and see a big white cloud, you're seeing an area of little tiny pieces of ice too light to fall. So, a comet's tail has ice pieces, along with the rock fragments, to give that cloudlike look.
Happy viewing and if you do head out, look south to see Jupiter and Saturn shining brightly. They're actually at their brightest at 9 P.M., which is an hour after sunset.