Perseid Meteor Shower To Peak This Weekend

Another Great Event for Sky Gazers!
Cover Photo via Alan Dyer/AmazingSky.com taken in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan in 2016

While there has been a lot of coverage on the upcoming Solar Eclipse, there is another popular solar event going on this month which will be in full swing this weekend: The Perseid Meteor Shower. The Perseids can been seen any night between now and August 24, but the actual peak is at 12pm CDT on August 12. That means the night before and the night after, Friday night into Saturday morning as well as Saturday night into Sunday morning, will be the best nights to see peak meteors.

These meteors are little pieces of space debris, originating from Comet Swift-Tuttle that interact with the Earth’s atmosphere. When the Earth passes through this debris, they hit our atmosphere at 140,000 mph and disintegrate in flashes of light, creating the meteor shower that you are able to see.

The Perseids get their name because they appear to come from the constellation Perseus. This time of the year, Perseus can be found along the northeast sky. Perseus is located near the constellation Cassiopeia, which looks like an “M” or “W” depending on your perspective. The photo below is an example of what the

Photo via EarthSky.org

sky might look like and where you might see the Perseids “shooting” from.

Most years the Perseids will produce roughly 50 to 100 meteors per hour, but because the moon will rise just before midnight (11:22pm Saturday, 11:56pm Sunday) these two days, we will likely only see 25 to 50 meteors per hour due to brighter skies. The best time to view the meteors are between 11pm and 3am. For best viewing, make sure you get away from highly lit areas such as cities and streets. This year, try to find an area that you might be shadowed from the moon, since it’s glare will make viewing a little tougher, but still doable. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to let your eyes fully adjust to the dark! If you plan to watch for a while, make sure you bring a blanket or chair, maybe even a sleeping bag! The show should last until dawn, so there will be plenty of time to watch!

FUN FACT: The Comet Swift-Tuttle was independently discovered by American astronomers Lewis Swift (July 16) and Horace Tuttle (July 19) during the summer of 1962. It was Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli who discovered that the Comet was the source for the Perseid Meteor shower in 1865.

Left to Right: Lewis Swift/ Horace Tuttle/Giovanni Schiaparelli

At this point the best night to sky gaze looks to be Friday night into early Saturday morning as that evening has the best chance for clear skies. Saturday night looks like it might be a rainy one! Sunday night into Monday will be another good night, but that is not technically during the “peak.” If you head out, don’t forget the camera! If you are looking for how to properly set up your camera, click here.  If you get another great photos, don’t forget to send them to us via Facebook or Twitter as well as by email at weather@kdlt.com! Enjoy!

Brandon Spinner
Chief Meteorologist
Twitter: @wxSpinner89
Facebook: Meteorologist Brandon Spinner

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