October 13, 2018
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The Perseids Meteor Shower Promises Celestial Fun

Sharon Mager
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August 10, 2018

Ever wished upon on a falling star? There will be multiple chances this week. The annual Perseid meteor shower is underway and will peak late on the evening of August 12 and in the wee hours of the morning, before sunrise, on August 13. That’s the best time to see the shimmering debris — up to 60 an hour.

The Perseid meteors aren’t really falling stars. They’re bits of rock and dust fragments left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. Every year in August, Earth passes through this debris cloud. As small particles collide with Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up, creating a quick streak of light across the heavens.

Though viewers can see the shower anywhere in the sky, they seem to originate near the constellation Perseus the Hero, near the Big Dipper. Meteor showers obtain their names according to this convention.

The best way to watch meteor showers is in full darkness, away from artificial lights. Spread a blanket or take chairs and allow about 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust.

There will be a full moon, obscuring the smaller meteors, but the show will go on. Positioning yourself so the moon is behind something in your vision may help. Also, the Perseid shower will occur simultaneously with the Delta Aquarid Meteor shower this year. Although the Delta Aquarid does not produce as many meteors per hour as the Perseid shower, it should enhance the display. Also, don’t hesitate to watch the evenings several nights before and after peak, as meteors will still be streaking through the sky.

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