Astronomers are saying that this year’s Perseid Meteor shower shall put on a spectacular show. Peak window is expected to be on August 11th, 12th, and 13th. Rather than just the typical 80 meteors per hour, skywatchers will be treated to between 150 to 200 Perseids per hour!
What causes the Perseid meteor shower? Comets tend to shed particles as they near the sun, and when Earth intersects these cometary debris fields, meteor showers occur from the friction caused by the bombardment of these particles in our upper atmosphere. The parent body of the Perseid meteor shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle.
The Perseid meteor shower, meanwhile, is so-called because it appears that its “shooting stars” seem to radiate from the constellation Perseus. Perseus tends to rise in the night sky at about 10 PM local time. However, most meteor showers are best observed after midnight and on through to the pre-dawn hours.
What is great about this year’s Perseid meteor shower is the minimal interference from moonlight. The full moon, after all, won’t rise until August 18th, which will occur well after the Perseid meteor shower’s peak window for this year.
For those who plan to observe the Perseids, find an unobstructed patch of sky that is far from artificial lights. Optimal viewing times are from midnight on through to dawn’s early light. It will take about 30 minutes for one’s eye to adjust to the darkness. Take a blanket to recline upon or a reclining chair, so that you don’t strain your neck muscles. Bug spray is advisable to keep pests away. Be sure to bring good company to share the experience with – especially since a Space.com article states that “a rate of 150 meteors per hour…means two to three meteors per minute.”
Interestingly enough, the Perseid meteor shower will overlap with the tail end of the Delta Aquarids shower, which is likely to make the summer night sky a sight to behold. To learn more about the Delta Aquarids (whose peak window is July 28th – 29th, and then continues until August 23rd), read about it here.
Get your wishes ready during the Perseid meteor shower, for you are sure to have a wonderful time with the wealth of shooting stars the Perseids promise.