Sunday, 15 December, 2019

How To Watch The Perseid Meteor Shower This Month

One of the hardest things to do when starting in astronomy is learning what is up in the sky writes Ian Griffin One of the hardest things to do when starting in astronomy is learning what is up in the sky writes Ian Griffin
Sandy Nunez | 10 August, 2019, 08:26

Avoid sources of light pollution like city lights and card, and try to find a wide-open area with unobstructed views of the horizon.

In all of my years of watching the Perseids, two especially bright showers still stand out: one in 1969 and another in 1974, both of which attained a head-turning magnitude of at least minus 10. Cloudy skies could also be an issue. The Perseid meteor shower happens annually but is known for being reliable and having plenty of shooting stars so you are more likely to see a bright flash or some that even look like fireworks.

The Perseids is one of the brighter meteor showers and can be seen each year between July 17 and August 24.

Lou Coban manages the University of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory, and says the meteor shower will peak around 9 p.m. Monday.

This year, the moon will be close to full at the time of the shower's peak, and its brightness will diminish the visibility of the meteors. These meteors will be most visible to the Northern Hemisphere (unless you have super good eyesight, in which case, good for you).

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If you go out on the morning of the August 11 you will have about two hours of darkness; on the morning of the August 12 this reduces to about an hour. So don't wait for the "peak" on Monday night.

On the other hand, those in the north-central US and the southeast may have their viewing obscured by clouds on Monday night.

The weekend leading up to the peak may provide better viewing opportunities this year, though, as the waxing gibbous moon will be setting earlier in the morning. There will still be meteors streaking across the sky when night falls, but you may not see as many.

The pieces of space debris that interact with the Earth's atmosphere to create the Perseids originate from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle.

The meteors are dust from Comet Swift-Tuttle, and they appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, hence the name. When the meteor shower is at its peak, around 60 shooting stars per hour can be seen crossing the heavens.