The night of August 12 / August 13 (Wednesday/Thursday) are promising to be a spectacular night to watch the Perseid meteor show this year. While we are already technically within viewing time, with a new moon, the sky will be perfect for viewing this night. Your best times will be a little passed midnight until 4am. They are estimating between 80-100 meteors per hour in dark locations. If you run into bad weather skies, you can have a good view the night before and after (30-40 meteors per hour).
There is no need for binoculars or telescopes for this show. The larger and darker you view is, the better! Point yourself northeast with a comfortable seat and enjoy.
Here are a few fun facts from Astronomy Magazine:
- The dust particles that create Perseid meteors were born in the comet known as 109P/Swift-Tuttle. This object orbits the Sun once every 130 years; it last returned to the inner solar system in 1992.
- The dust specks hit Earth’s atmosphere at 37 miles per second (59 km/s), vaporizing from friction with the air and leaving behind the streaks of light we call meteors.
- Although 37 miles per second may seem fast, Perseid meteors are not the quickest among annual showers. The Leonids of November top the charts, hitting our atmosphere at 44 miles per second (71 km/s).
- Although most shower meteors meet their demise high in Earth’s atmosphere, at altitudes between 50 and 70 miles (85 and 115 kilometers), a few bigger particles survive to within 12 miles (20km) of the surface. These typically produce “fireballs” that glow as bright as or brighter than Venus.
source: Talcott, Richard. “Perfect Conditions for Summer’s Top Meteor Shower.”Astronomy.com. N.p., 05 Aug. 2015. Web. 10 Aug. 2015.
I know it’s tough to make it out that late during a week night, especially if you are running around after kids in the evening, but this is usually a show that thanks you for your patience with it’s brilliance.
Enjoy! I hope to power through the evening and try to get a few good night photos.