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Perseid meteor shower of 2021 thrills skywatchers

The expected peak of the 2021 Perseid meteor shower overnight on Wednesday and Thursday (Aug. 11-12) thrilled amateur astronomers as Earth passed through the debris tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle.

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In this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Spruce Knob, West Virginia.

(Image credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA)

If you take a cool photo of the 2021 Perseid meteor shower let us know! You can send images and comments to spacephotos@space.com.

Images, videos and excited comments populated social media platforms as people watched the "shooting star" show, underneath a small crescent moon. You can still catch a good show late Thursday night (Aug. 12) and before dawn on Friday (Aug. 13) — but act quickly!

NASA warns that the next great Perseid meteor shower may not happen until 2024 because sky conditions will not be ideal for the expected 2022 and 2023 peaks. "With a full moon and lower meteor activity during the Perseids' peak in 2022, and a waning crescent high in the sky for 2023, this might be your best chance to do some summer skywatching for a few years," the agency said in a blog post (opens in new tab).

Related: Amazing photos of the 2021 Perseid meteor shower

Tyler Leavitt, an amateur astronomer in Las Vegas, sent some pictures to Space.com from about 30 miles (50 kilometers) away, where he drove to "get away from the lights," he told Space.com in an e-mail. The spectacular result showed Perseid meteors lit up high in the atmosphere, framed by cactuses and a windmill.

"The air near Vegas was actually a bit hazy from the California wildfires," Leavitt said. "As the night went along, I was able to see and capture more meteors. Counted 23 between 2 and 3 am. That seemed to be the maximum I saw in an hour, which was slower (fewer) than other years I've been to the same spot."

Below are some social media shares and comments about the 2021 Perseids.

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The next major meteor shower of 2021 will come in October, when the annual Orionid meteor shower lights up the night sky. The Orionids are made up of pieces of Halley's Comet and will peak in 2021 overnight on Oct. 20 and Oct. 21, but the full moon on Oct. 20 will likely wash them out. 

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc (opens in new tab). in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.