DENVER — The Perseid meteor shower is here. The annual brightest meteor shower should not disappoint.
This month’s celestial event may be even more spectacular because of an increased rate of meteors, according to NASA. Bill Cooke, NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Alabama says, “Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour.”
Stargazers have several days to enjoy this year’s unique show. The Perseids, pronounced PER-see-ids, will peak during the night and early morning hours of August 11-13.
The best meteor watching should fall between midnight to dawn Friday, with 160 to 200 meteors expected to be visible per hour.
They should be so frequent that you can be able to simply look up and you should see some, but looking northerly will be the more specific direction. It takes about 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, so you’ll need to set aside some time to watch the Perseids.
Despite being known for its bright meteors, the Perseids are best seen under dark skies like the ones you’ll find in national parks or rural areas. Sky watchers can use the Atlas of Night Sky Brightness to find a good, dark spot for observing the stars.
For those hoping to capture stunning photos of the event, you’ll simply need a camera and lens, however, a tripod will come in handy if you’re hoping to capture time-lapses or long exposure images, according to Sky and Telescope.
The Perseids are ancestors of the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. Every meteor from the Perseids is a remnant of this ancient space rock.
Now the Swift-Tuttle is a field of debris composed of icy space rocks and takes about 133 years to orbit around our Sun. As it moves through the inner solar system, the remnants of the comet spill out trillions of cosmic particles in its wake, and when those rocks enter Earth’s atmosphere they burn up, creating a brilliant flash of light — a phenomenon people interpret as shooting stars.
These fast and bright meteors are a favorite for sky watchers, and those in the Northern Hemisphere are sure to be treated to an even more breathtaking event this year because Earth will be closer to the meteor shower.
“The meteors you’ll see this year are from comet fly-bys that occurred hundreds if not thousands of years ago,” said Cooke. “And they’ve traveled billions of miles before their kamikaze run into Earth’s atmosphere.”