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Here's When To Keep An Eye On The Sky For Annual Perseid Meteor Shower

The annual Perseid meteor shower could be especially good this year because the moon is nearly new when the shower peaks on Aug. 12-13.
The annual Perseid meteor shower could be especially good this year because the moon is nearly new when the shower peaks on Aug. 12-13. Video Credit: ScienceAtNASA

Keep an eye on the sky for some spectacular stargazing during a spectacular annual meteor shower.

Considered the year's best meteor shower, the mid-August Perseids may be seen Sunday, Aug. 11, Monday, Aug. 12 and Tuesday, Aug. 13 with peak viewing from 10 p.m. Monday to the predawn hours Tuesday, according to EarthySky.org.

The Perseids bring 50 to 100 meteors visible per hour and because they take place on warm summer nights they are easy for viewers to watch.

The "fast and bright" meteors known as "fireballs" often leave lengthy wakes of light and color as they travel through the Earth's atmosphere, according to ScienceATNASA.

According to EarthySky.org, most meteors will likely fall in the predawn hours on Tuesday, Aug. 13.

A nearly full moon during this year's annual Perseids could drown some of the meteors from view though there will be less viewing time without the bright moon late Monday into Tuesday, says EarthSky.org.

Here are some viewing tips from EarthySky.org:

  • You don't need special equipment or knowledge of the constellations.
  • Go to an area with a dark, open sky to view the Perseids. The meteors fly across the sky in multiple directions and in front of many constellations.
  • Dedicate an hour of viewing time as the show will come in spurts with lulls.
  • Bring along a reclining chair.

What are Meteors?

Meteors are leftover comet particles and pieces of broken asteroids. When comets come around the sun, they leave a dusty trail behind them. Every year Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the broken pieces to collide with the Earth's atmosphere and disintegrate causing the streaks of color and light.

Where do Perseids come from?

The pieces of space debris that interact with the Earth's atmosphere to create the Perseids originate from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Swift-Tuttle takes 133 years to orbit the sun once, according to NASA Science.

When did the comet visit us?

Comet Swift-Tuttle last visited the inner solar system in 1992.

Why call them Perseids?

Their radiant which is the point in the sky from which the Perseids seem to come from is the constellation Perseus.

The constellation for which a meteor shower is named simply helps identify which shower is viewable on a given night. It is not the source of the meteors, according to ScienceATNASA.

Click here for the ScienceATNASA

Click here for the EarthSky.org article.

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