Where, when and how to watch next week's amazing Perseid meteor shower
Get ready to look up in the night sky: The best summertime meteor shower of the year is right around the corner.
If the weather permits, the Perseids, widely known as the best meteor shower in summer, will be touring the sky above you next weekend. According to Space.com, skywatchers should be able to see about 60 to 70 meteors per hour on the Perseids peak nights of August 11-12 and August 12-13. Astronomy magazine predicts that the best views will come before dawn on the 13th, provided the skies are clear.
What's more? NASA's Bill Cooke told Space.com that the moonlight will not interfere with the spectacular event this year. "The moon will be near new moon, it will be a crescent, which means it will set before the Perseid show gets underway after midnight. “That’ll make the Perseids probably the best shower of 2018 for people who want to go out and view it,” Cooke said.
While Bruce McClure of Earthsky said, "it should be an awesome year to watch the Perseids!"
A typical Perseid meteor shower produces anywhere from 80 to a few hundred meteors per hour, at best. Cooke said the most memorable shower occurred in 1993 when the peak rate topped over 300 meteors per hour. Unlike the often chilly nights during the Leonids of November or Geminids of December, the Perseids will feature in a summer sky, enabling viewers to enjoy the warmth as they gaze away.
"This major shower takes place during the lazy, hazy days of summer when many families are on vacation," McClure said. Every year, the Earth passes through a trail of debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, and that's when the Perseid shower occurs. Meteors are nothing but tiny dust particles left by comets as they revolve around the sun.
The particles are known to blast across the firmament at about 132,000 mph and break apart as they approach the atmosphere in a glistening flash of light. Most of these particles are reportedly no bigger than a grain of sand or a pea, according to WSB TV.
McClure said no special equipment is required to enjoy this much-anticipated spectacle - just a clear, dark sky and some celestial patience. "Remember, your eyes can take as long as 20 minutes to truly adapt to the darkness of night," he said. "So don’t rush the process."
The American Meteor Society states that meteor showers are named after the constellation out of which they appear to come. Experts recommend looking for the Perseus constellation in the northeastern portion of the sky. You will find it just to the left of the Seven Sisters constellation, Pleiades. According to folklore, Perseus is the son of the god Zeus and the mortal Danae in Greek mythology and so when Zeus visited Danae, the mother of Perseus, the Perseid shower commemorates the event in a "shower of gold".