Look up! The Perseid meteor shower peaks this week

A perseid meteor streaks across a star-encrusted and cloud-scattered sky. (Image Credit: Jimmy Westlake/NASA)

The sky is falling! Sort of. The sky won’t really be falling in the coming days, it will just be the annual Perseid meteor shower.

This is widely considered the best annual meteor shower because:

  1. It’s August and it’s generally warm out and,
  2. They are usually the brightest of the annual meteor showers.

Every year in late July through the middle of August Earth passes through the debris field leftover by comet Swift-Tuttle. The debris we pass through is no larger than a grain of sand, but add a lot of speed (up to 140,000 miles per hour!) and they create beautiful streaks of light in our sky as Earth sweeps through.

Meteor showers get their names from the constellations they appear to originate from.  In this case we would be looking for the constellation Perseus. If the meteors are not originating from that general area it’s probably a random meteor you are seeing. On any given night you can see about 4 meteors per hour as “space junk” falls through Earth’s atmosphere. During the Perseids, around 100 meteors can be seen per hour in the darkest areas! You’ll see far less meteors per hour the closer to light you are due to the fact that the fainter ones will be taken out of the equation. The number one rule in viewing a meteor shower is to limit light pollution.  Get far away from city lights!

Viewing:

As mentioned we are looking for Perseus. Perseus sits in the northeast sky so you want to find a nice chunk of sky in that direction!

2010_perseids_jpg_69285

The meteor shower has been ongoing since the last few days of July, but the peak will be the overnights of August 12 and 13. The best time to see them will be around midnight or shortly thereafter. 

perseids

Some extra advice:

Give your eyes about 30 min to adjust to darkness.

Just use your eyes… telescopes and binoculars will limit your view.

Be PATIENT! Get a blanket and look up. If you’re in a dark place it shouldn’t take long to see the sights.

Another thing of note… the moon won’t rise until after sunrise so the meteors won’t be drowned out by the moonlight.

Forecast:

Space is cooperating by keeping the moonlight away, but will Earth? Click here to check on your StormTracker forecast to get a glimpse of this week’s weather.

Enjoy!

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