Meteor shower show this weekend

persoids

An outburst of Perseid meteors lights up the sky in August 2009 in this time-lapse image. Stargazers expect a similar outburst during the Perseid meteor shower visible overnight Aug. 11 and 12. (photo courtesy NASA/Jet Propulsion Lab)

HOLT, Fla., Aug. 10, 2017–Mother Nature’s celestial light show will be at its peak Friday night to Saturday morning.

The Perseid meteor shower, which occurs every year, has been underway since July 17, but it hits its peak this weekend.

The best time to look for meteors will be at 4 a.m. the morning of Aug. 12. NASA predicts a rate of 100 meteors per hour to be visible, as well as a possible outburst.

“Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double normal rates on the night of Aug. 11-12,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Alabama. “Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour.”

An outburst is a meteor shower with more meteors than usual. The last Perseid outburst occurred in 2009.

Moonlight

Unfortunately, the timing of this year’s meteor shower coincides with the waning full moon which will be three-quarters full and 80 percent illuminated.

However, meteors will still be visible. Increased activity may also be seen Aug. 12 and 13.

The shower happens when Earth passes through the dust and debris trail left by comet Swift-Tuttle as it orbits around the sun. Debris disintegrates in flashes of light when it hits Earth’s atmosphere, creating a what’s known as a shooting star.

This meteor shower is called Perseids because the shooting stars seem to fly out of the constellation Perseus.

 

How to watch the show

The best time to see the Perseids is between midnight and dawn on the morning of Aug. 12, with its peak at 4 a.m.

The constellation Perseus will be in the northeastern sky.

Grab a blanket, lawn chair or stretch out in that favorite hammock, lean back and enjoy the show. It takes about 45 minutes for eyes to adjust to the darkness, so plan plenty of viewing time.

Staff report and NASA news release

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