Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Catch The Best of This Year's Perseid Meteor Shower This Weekend

Perseid meteor shower 2018 GETTY PERSEID METEOR SHOWER You can see the meteors with the naked eye
Sandy Nunez | 10 August, 2018, 05:31

As always, it's best to get away from light pollution and head far away from city centers. The best Perseid performance we know of occurred in 1993, when the peak rate topped 300 meteors per hour, Cooke said.

What's great about the Perseids is they can be enjoyed during summer's warmth, unlike the often nippy nights during the Leonids of November or Geminids of December.

The good news for stargazers this year is that the moon will snuff its light for the start of a new lunar phase on Saturday (Aug. 12), significantly darkening the sky. However, it's important to set an alarm clock, because the meteor shower occurs while most people are sleeping. No special equipment is needed, just patience.

When is the best time to see them?

You can help find a dark enough spot near you, using this atlas of artificial sky brightness.

If you'd rather watch the Perseid meteor shower from the comfort of your own home, the Virtual Telescope Project is live broadcasting the shower from scenic Castel Santa Maria, Italy, beginning at 4:30 p.m. EST on August 12.

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The basic idea behind the annual meteor shower begins with a comet - basically a large ball of frozen ice and rocks that travels around the sun.

"Comets are spectacular and attractive and take months to go across the sky but every time they go near the sun they are melted down a little bit". The meteors will appear to originate in the northeast sky.

As Earth sweeps through the path of Swift-Tuttle's 133-year-orbit of the sun, it collects some of these bits of leftover comet, which incinerate in our atmosphere in a fiery blaze. "During a meteor shower the Earth collides with that debris and very small pieces burn up in the upper atmosphere creating the show".

What else should I look out for in the sky?

While this weekend is the peak, Twarog predicts the showers will last through August 24.

Capturing the fleeting light show requires some luck as meteors quickly strike through the starry skies. It is important to note that the constellation for which a meteor shower is named is not the source of the meteors, it is simply in the same direction.