Look Up, Sky Watchers: The Perseid Meteor Shower Is Coming
This year's annual Perseid meteor shower may not be an outburst year like last year, but it's still expected to be a spectacular view. Under the right conditions, sky watchers could observe up to 50 meteors per hour.
A Reason To Look Up
If you're looking for a reason to look up at the sky before the Great American Eclipse, then you're in luck because the annual Perseid meteor shower is coming soon. Hopefully, you will be willing to stay up extra late or wake up really early if you want to witness this sight.
This year's Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak at around 1 p.m. on Aug. 12, which could mean a decent light show on the evenings before and after. Compared to last year's outburst when sky watchers were able to observe up to 200 meteors per hour, this year's could present just up to 50 meteors because of the very thing that people have been excited about for months now — the moon.
The peak of the meteor shower happens to be on an evening when the moon will be three-quarters full, making it just a little bit more difficult to see the meteors.
"But the good news is that the Perseids are rich in fireballs; otherwise the moon would really mess with them," said Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office in Alabama.
How To Watch
It's pretty easy to witness the light show, as there is no need for any equipment to observe it. The best thing to do is to go outside on the evenings before or after the peak on Aug. 12, give your eyes about 45 minutes to adjust to the darkness, lie down, and look straight up into the sky.
Some of the best places to observe the sky event in the United States are in the Northern hemisphere until the mid-southern latitudes.
Perseid Meteor Shower
The Perseid meteor shower is called as such because it appears to be flying out from the constellation Perseus. Every meteor that we will see on during the meteor shower is actually a piece of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years but leaves an annual trail of particles for us to observe.
Each Perseid meteor is 500 times faster than the fastest car at 37 miles per second (59 kilometers per second) and could burn at temperatures of 3,000 to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Though Perseid meteors do not pose any threat to Earth, outbursts could pose threats to spacecrafts in the area.