HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) –
This is one of the best annual meteor showers. Why?
It can sometimes produce more than 50 meteors per hour. Plus it happened every August when the nights are warm, and it’s rather nice to stay up late and sit outside to watch.
What’s great about meteor showers, especially this one is that you can see meteors before and after the peak. So on a clear night you can sit out and just watch the sky. You’ll likely see at least a few.
The Perseid meteors are smaller pieces, or debris, of the Swift-Tuttle comet, which was named after the astronomers who discovered it. When the debris hits the Earth’s atmosphere, it’s heated up and produces the light we see as “shooting stars.”
The strength of the meteor shower will vary each year, mostly depending on the moon phase. It’s just easier to see the meteors while the moon isn’t visible in the sky.
The best time to view the Perseids would be after midnight each night, as that is when the greatest number of meteors will be visible. However since the peak falls in line with an almost full moon, you might not want to push your luck at getting up really early for a view.
How can you view this meteor shower? It is a common misconception that you need to look at a specific area to see meteors. However, they will be visible in all areas of the sky. Get away from artificial lights and try to get as much of the sky in your view as possible; that way, you have the best chance at seeing them. The most important part is to allow time for your eyes to adjust to the night-time sky.
It’s best to watch them at least after midnight. Activity will increase overnight so if you really want to see peak activity, that’s going to be between 3-4 a.m.
This year, the meteor shower peaks on the night of Tuesday August 11, and early morning hours of Wednesday August 12. You’ll still have good viewing Monday night through Thursday night, but Tuesday night will be the best. Dependant on clear skies of course.
This year, on the night of August 11, the moon will be rising just after midnight. So if you don’t want to stay up too late, viewing the meteor shower closest to midnight might be a good option.
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