On August 12, as the Earth passes through the dirtiest pieces of comet Swift-Tuttle’s tails, viewers will be able to glimpse the Perseid meteor shower. According to NASA meteorologist Bill Cooke, who was cited by the Associated Press, “you’ll see a Perseid per minute or so if you go out just before dawn and there’s a good dark sky and nice clear weather.”
How do the Perseids work?
One of the largest meteor showers is the Perseids. It takes place in the late summer each year. When the Earth passes through fields of space debris, meteor showers occur. The comet Swift-Tuttle, a huge ice and rock ball that drops bits of dusty debris as it orbits the sun, is where the Perseid meteor shower originates. When the planet passes in front of it, the material that was caught in our atmosphere ignites, creating the strobe lights. The Perseid meteor shower is called for the constellation Perseus because the meteors’ paths appear to start from this point in the sky.
How and when should I view the Perseid meteor shower?
“People in the US can reasonably expect to see around 40 Perseids in the hour just before dawn on the peak nights,” said Bill Cooke, director of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. That’s not that bad—one happens approximately every few minutes. He continued by saying that this could be seen in rural areas far from cities and suburbs. According to NASA, suburban regions’ lighter sky significantly lower the rates, with 10 or less projected in an hour.
This year’s shower is already in progress, but this weekend will be the primary attraction as it reaches its height from Saturday night until Sunday morning. Cooke predicts that a few meteors will start to appear on Saturday night at 11 p.m. local time, perhaps one per 15 minutes. He continued, “They’ll keep cranking up the pace until just before dawn on Sunday, when “you’ll see meteors appear all over the place.”
The Northern Hemisphere is where you can observe the Perseid meteor shower the best. Darkness and a clear sky are required for it.
(With assistance from NASA and the Associated Press)