Here’s hoping for clear skies, something we haven’t seen lately.
If you find yourself outside during the night next Thursday, don’t forget to look up. On August 11 and 12, the biggest meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, will be lighting up the night sky, and this year the Perseids promise to be the best shower of the decade.
The Perseids typically peak in mid-August every year, when the Earth intersects with the trail of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Debris from the comet impacts the Earth’s atmosphere and streaks across the sky, creating shooting stars.
Typically, the Perseids’ peak features about 100 meteors per hour. But this year, we may see twice that many thanks to an “outburst,” which occurs when the Earth runs into leftover debris from past orbits of the comet as well as debris from the current year. The extra material combines to create a truly spectacular meteor shower.
The key to watching meteors is to be comfortable and keep your gaze on the sky!
One of the good things about meteors is that you don’t need any equipment-just your eyes and a bit of patience. Even in a so-called ’meteor shower’, it is rare to get more than one meteor a minute; don’t be surprised if you see nothing for five or ten minutes, then two meteors in a row.
The key to watching meteors is being comfortable and keeping your gaze on the sky. Dress warmly, because in the middle of the night and early hours of the morning, it can be quite cold. Lie on the ground on a rug, with a sleeping bag or blanket, or sit on a reclining garden chair so you can spend as much time as possible looking up without craning your neck.
Standing and looking up for long periods can be uncomfortable and will reduce your chances of seeing those ‘wow’ meteors. Try to keep your gaze on the sky for as long as possible, many people have missed that perfect meteor when they looked away. This is very annoying, especially when everyone else saw it but you didn’t!
Tonight – August 11, 2015 – it’s time to watch the Perseid meteor shower. The moon is out of the way, so the meteors should be flying! This shower is often our best meteor shower of the year, and it’s definitely a sky highlight of Northern Hemisphere summers. At its peak, the Perseids often rain down 50 to 100 or more meteors per hour. To see the most meteors, you will want to watch in the hours between midnight and dawn. Which dates are best? We recommend watching all three mornings around the peak – the mornings (not the evenings) of August 12, 13 and 14. If you can just watch one, the morning of August 13 probably will feature the most meteors for those with clear, dark country skies.
Look to the northeast, but there should be meteors all over the sky.
With clear skies forecast for tonight, the Perseid meteor shower should be great, in spite of the almost-full super moon.
The moon will rise at 9:24 PM CDT, and will not set until well after dawn, so the show may not be as spectacular as some we’ve seen in the past, but still should be worth a look.
…but the supermoon may interfere a bit with meteor watching. The Perseid meteor shower will maximize its summer show August 11, 12 and 13, but this year’s brightest super-moon will be full on the 10th, and will remain quite bright for several days.
Lots of Perseid information at the link.