Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight, Mon. Night
August 11, 2013
By WeatherBug Sr. Meterologist, John Bateman
You don`t have to be a meteorologist to enjoy a good meteor shower, but you will need dark skies and good viewing weather to see the annual Perseids. This year`s display should be quite dazzling thanks to an early-setting waxing crescent Moon. At the shower`s peak August 12, the average viewer could see around one or two meteors per minute.
Whether you call them falling stars, shooting stars, or by their scientific name, meteors, they all begin the same way - as small particles of debris that burn up in the Earth`s atmosphere and emit a visible light trail. Most meteors range from the size of a grain of rice to a medium pebble and streak across the sky at 10 to 20 miles per second. The Perseids tend to be larger and move faster, with brighter "fireball" meteors than other showers. In fact the Perseids travel around 30 to 40 miles per second - about 100 to 200 times faster than the speed of sound!
Now, technically you can see meteors any night of the year... but at certain times you can get a shower. A meteor shower is a brief period of increased meteor activity, occurring at regular intervals and coming from a particular part of the sky. The main meteor shower in August is called the Perseids because the meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation of Perseus. The meteors themselves are pieces of debris from the path of comet Swift-Tuttle and as they crash into the Earth`s atmosphere, they put on their celestial show.
The best time to see the peak of this year`s meteor shower in the continental U.S. will be both early Monday and Tuesday morning, August 12th and 13th. The best window of opportunity will generally be after Midnight through around 5 a.m. local time each morning. You will also want to look in the northeastern sky near the constellations of Perseus and Cassiopeia for the chance to see the most meteors.
Now, one big
factor as to whether you`re going to be able to see any of the shower is your local weather forecast. For more on that, click here
Also remember three other things for optimal viewing - you should get as far away from city lights as possible, let your eyes adjust to the darkness for at least a half hour, and just use your naked eyes. Telescopes and binoculars will not help you see them better and will only limit your field of view.
With a little luck, and help from Mother Nature, you will get to see one of fall`s greatest shows on (or above) Earth.
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Story Image: A Perseid fireball photographed August 12, 2006, by Pierre Martin of Arnprior, Ontario, Canada. Courtesy: NASA.gov
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