Whether you’re an astronomer or a general stargazer, don’t miss the Perseid meteor shower this month, because now you cannot say you haven’t been warned. It’s time for the curtain call to a summer filled with stunning cosmic displays, and it will be going out with one more major act.
There have been a number of celestial events across the Western sky, with Jupiter, Venus and Saturn putting on their own act around the horizon. It has been a great show, a stunning display of cosmic events, followed by the Blue Moon on July 31st and it’s now coming to an end. At the very least, for the summer.
The annual Perseid shower will be visible streaking throughout our skies between August 11th and August 14th, but the peak will be on August 13th at 1 A.M. PT or 4 A.M. ET, when the lights of comet dust will be seen by the naked eye. It will be visible from the Northern Hemisphere, so get out a reclining chair and find a place unhindered by city lights to watch the show of light.
Meteor showers are celestial events that happen when our planet Earth orbits through the trails of passing comets. Originating from the constellation Perseus, the Perseid meteor shower is claimed to be this year’s best, holding up that bright trophy up in the sky for all stargazers to see.
Its parent comet, Swift-Tuttle is a rare occurrence indeed as the space wanderer orbits the Sun once every 133 years. It was discovered in 1862 and was last sighted remotely close to our region of the solar system back in 1992. It’s now headed back into the cold depths of distant space and will not be seen again until 2126.
This year, when Earth will pass through its trail of dust, tiny particles will be hitting our atmosphere and will be seen across the night-time sky, flying at speeds of 130,000 miles per hour, bright and fast and easy to miss.
The meteor shower will be visible at any time during the night, but the recommended hours for viewing are reported to be between midnight and dawn, when the radiant is above the horizon. It will offer a clearer, better view and more opportunities for them to be viewed.
The moon seems to have been anticipating the wishes of astronomers this year. Its light will be dimmer as it will be at waning crescent during the shower and will interfere as little as possible with the streaks of lights across our atmosphere.
However, stargazers must do their part and keep their eyes peeled to the darkened skies. Blink and you miss it.
Image source: eventbrite.com