AUG 10, 2021 4:19 PM PDT

The Perseid Meteor Shower is About to Peak

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

As much of the US swelters in a heat wave this week, cloud cover is also predicted to be low in many places. While there won't be much to block the rays of the Sun, it means that viewing should be good for the Perseid meteor shower, which is expected to peak on August 11, 12, and 13. There also won't be a bright moon obscuring the sights.

Image credit: Pixabay

The Perseids are well known. They happen annually between about July 17 until August 24, as the Earth moves through the Comet Swift-Tuttle's orbital path. The comet's debris creates the meteor shower, and the most rubble arrives after the first week of August. Parts of the comet rain into the atmosphere at about 210,000 km (130,000 miles) per hour, and they're bright enough to be seen without special equipment.
 
Some of us are old enough to remember when Comet Swift-Tuttle was last at the point in its orbit when it's closest to the Sun, its perihelion, in December 1992. It will pass by again in July 2126.

If you are far away from light pollution in the Northern Hemisphere, you may be able to see 40 meteors every hour during the Perseids. The shower is visible in the Souther Hemisphere too, but only to 30 degrees south latitude.

The peak viewing hours will be between your local midnight time until dawn on August 12. To improve your chances of seeing them, try to find a wide open sky, and get to one that's dark if possible. This map has some dark locations. Your eyes may take up to twenty minutes to adjust to the low light levels, so it's best to spend an hour or more looking for meteors. Since you'll be outside for awhile, bring a chair, some friends or family, and try to be patient.

You can also join NASA on social media outlets like their YouTube channel as the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center tracks the event. They will conduct a livestream on August 11, and if skies are cloudy, they'll try again August 12 and 13.

Sources: Earth Sky, NASA

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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