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Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend. Will smoky skies ruin your chance of watching?

How to see the 2018 Perseid meteor shower

The Perseid meteor shower is visible from Earth now until August 24.
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The Perseid meteor shower is visible from Earth now until August 24.

If you look to the sky this weekend, you could be greeted by the Perseid meteor shower, a yearly display of shooting stars that shines brightest in mid-August. Or you may get an eyeful of wildfire smoke, according to the National Weather Service.

Hazy skies have made visibility difficult across the Treasure Valley in recent weeks, and things likely won’t clear up soon, said NWS Boise meteorologist Elizabeth Padian.

“We’re expecting smoke to continue into the area for the next few days,” she said.

It will likely worsen on Thursday and Friday, and a dry cold front blowing in on Saturday could bring even more smoke, she said. Most of the haze is coming from the massive wildfires burning in Northern California, though some of it is coming from Eastern Oregon and Central Idaho, according to smoke analysis models.

“As long as those (California) fires continue to burn, we’ll have smoke from them,” Padian said.

What does that mean for hopeful stargazers?

Padian said there may not be much “surface smoke,” which settles lower, but haze higher in the atmosphere could block your view.

“It’s a tough forecast, and it’s hard to give an estimate of (visibility in) one location over another. Not being in a valley might be better,” Padian said.

Rhiannon Blaauw, of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office — located at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. — shares some tips and strategies to best view a meteor shower.

And, of course, leaving the Treasure Valley bodes better for watching the night sky anyway, as it eliminates light pollution.

This year’s Perseid meteor shower is likely to be brighter than other years, according to accuweather.com, because it coincides with a new moon. The meteor shower, which occurs every year as the Earth crosses dust from the Swift-Tuttle comet, lasts until Aug. 24 but will be brightest the evenings of Aug. 11 and 12.

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