One of the best-known meteor showers of the year?the Perseids?will shoot intense streaks of light across the night sky beginning after 9 p.m. tonight. Those who can stay up for its peak performance are in for quite a show, and the best viewing will be after 2 a.m. on Tuesday.

The Perseid meteor shower is caused by meteoroids crashing and burning high in earth’s upper atmosphere. Astronomer Christopher Tycner says, “The Perseid meteors are the debris of a comet that is now far away from the sun where it spends most of its life in the coldness of space. However, during the Perseid shower, the Earth passes through the trail of dust debris that the comet left behind many years ago. When one of these dust particles is intercepted by our planet as it orbits the sun, it causes the dust particle to completely burn up, leaving an eye-catching streak of light. Perseid meteors appear to originate from the direction of the constellation Perseus, which rises in the northeast.”

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