It’ that time of year for the Perseids Meteor Shower! Right now, the Earth is passing through fragments and dust trails created by the Comet Swift-Tuttle and this means the Perseids Meteor Shower has started and will be getting stronger each day until its peak on August 12th. Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell-Tuttle discovered the Swift-Tuttle Comet in July of 1862. The comet passed by Earth in 1992 and will not return again until 2126, however the dust that follows this comet creates a dependable annual meteor shower, the Perseids.
Perseids Meteor Shower Good Ole’ Reliable
The Perseids is named after constellation Perseus because meteors seem to spread out from an area surrounding the constellation, this is called the radiant. The Perseids Meteor Shower is one of the world’s most famous astronomical summertime events and is called “Ole Reliable” because the Perseids always seems to be an enjoyable strong August meteor shower. The reason for its popularity is that people living in the northern hemisphere are usually treated to warmer weather which makes viewing much more enjoyable. Trust me, I know from years of experience and have been known to stand out in the freezing cold for hours (warm weather is better).
The Perseids Meteor Shower will peak in the morning of August 12 where meteors can be seen anywhere in the sky. The main thing to viewing any meteor shower is to find a safe, dark place away from man-made lights and lean back in a relaxing position looking toward the darkest part of the sky. Sometimes the Moon can be a hindrance, but this year the Moon will not be shedding much light, as during the peak it will be a waxing crescent Moon phase, so this means more visible meteors.
Perseids Meteor Shower General Rules
As a general rule for this meteor shower I say look to the northeast, but no one ever really knows where meteors will appear. I’d like to give you an exact time to view the shower, but meteor shower observation still remains one of the most complicated astronomical events to foresee, so having said that, try observing in the late evening of August 11th into the early morning of August 12th. Meteor showers are misunderstood, a lot of people think they are nighttime events, they’re actually better seen closer to dawn and I’ve heard this year some scientists believe that the Perseids could produce up to 100 or more meteors per hour so there will be no lack of chances to see meteors skipping across the sky.
The Perseids Meteor Shower consists of meteoroids mostly as small as a grain of sand but occasionally softball size meteoroids will create large fireballs. I truly don’t know what to expect and for me that’s part of the excitement. Additionally, Perseids meteors enter the Earth’s atmosphere at amazingly fast speeds as high as 133,000 mile per hour and even though most are the size of a grain of sand you’ll still see them glowing and whizzing through the air. Perseids are not usually known for massive fireballs, but anything is possible.
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Keep your head up!
- Meteor Mark