The summer meteor season usually gets ramped up with next week's Perseid showers, but we'll get an earlier show Wednesday and Thursday with some slow moving bright meteors.

They're called the Alpha Capricornids, and they've been going on since early July, but they'll reach their brightest beginning tonight (Wednesday July 28) through Friday.

Looking to the southeastern sky, the slow moving orbs will be visible at about five or six an hour beginning around midnight. As the early morning progresses, the fireballs will shift from out of the south.

While the Alpha Caprincornids are not as plentiful as the upcoming Perseid showers (more on them later), they are brighter, so the few you do see should light up the sky more than a normal star or planet.

 

Again, look to the southeast beginning around midnight, providing you are in an area that is a little removed from the light pollution of the city. The moon is expected to be fairly bright, so you may miss some of the dimmer meteors, but the brightest ones will still give you a good show.

The more popular and plentiful Perseid meteor showers will hit their peak beginning late next week, with their biggest show being August 8-15. To illustrate the difference between the two, the Alphas move at about 15 miles per second, while the Perseids are cranking at over double that at 37 miles per second.

The DNR Dark Sky program is offering several opportunities to view the Perseid showers with them at their 'Meteors and S'mores' events, including two West Michigan stops at Muskegon State Park on August 13, and Ludington State Park on August 11.

The DNR Dark Sky also offers several Dark Sky Preserves throughout the state, which offer perfect viewing conditions for both astrological events.

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Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

Keep scrolling for 50 vintage photos that show the beauty of America's national parks.