The Perseid meteor shower — set to hit its peak this weekend — is expected to be “the best meteor shower of the year,” NASA says.
That’s because, in addition to the blizzard of shooting stars, some of the most stunning orbs visible to mere mortals will be on sparkling display at the same time.
The Perseid meteor shower is the glittery result of Earth’s passage through a steam of debris left behind by a period comet called the Swift-Tuttle, according to NASA. Reports of Perseid meteors are already rolling in and are expected to increase in intensity as the weekend gets underway.
“We expect to see meteor rates as high as 100 per hour,” said astronomer Bill Cooke, the head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, in the above video. It was released by NASA on the aptly named website Space.com. “The Perseids always put on a good show.”
Cooke and his team will host an “Up All Night” live chat from Saturday at 11 p.m. to Sunday at 3 a.m. Participants will also get to see live video and audio feeds of the Perseid meteor shower from a camera mounted at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
But the Perseid meteor shower is only part of the treat in store for stargazers, NASA says.
“The brightest planets in the solar system are lining up right in the middle of the [Perseid] display,” NASA says. Specifically, “Jupiter, Venus and the crescent moon are gathering together just as the Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak.”
The red giant star Aldebaran will also be visible, “adding a splash of color to the gathering,” NASA says.
The three celestial orbs will make for a brilliant, three-point line in the sky, all surrounded by shooting stars. The display is expected to be best seen in the eastern skies and in the early morning hours before sunrise.
The show will get better as the weekend winds down. Early Monday, the increasingly narrowing moon will pass even closer to Venus, as Jupiter “hovers” overhead, according to NASA.
This is one of those moments for which astronomy buffs live, according to NASA, which adds:
“Star-watchers say there’s nothing prettier than a close encounter between the slender crescent moon and Venus. Nothing that is, except for the crescent moon, Venus and a flurry of Perseids.”
By Rene Lynch
The Perseid meteor shower — that annual summertime favorite — is back this weekend. And it’s expected to be spectacular.
The stars have aligned, so to speak, to enhance viewing Friday night and Saturday night when the Perseid meteor shower will be at its finest. The shower, which lasts from Aug. 10 through Aug. 13, is widely considered to be the best of the year, says the astronomy website EarthSky.
One tip: Try not to blink. “The Perseids are typically fast and bright meteors,” EarthSky says.
The waning crescent moon is one of the many reasons why viewing conditions are especially good this weekend.
And you won’t necessarily have to stay up terribly late — or get up especially early — to enjoy the show, EarthSky says.
“Meteors are typically best after midnight, but … with the moon rising into the predawn sky, you might want to watch for Perseid meteors in late evening as well,” the site says.
The best viewing, however, still will be during the darkest part of the night because the Perseids tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into midnight, according to EarthSky.
Don’t despair if you just can’t swing a late night. There’s always the option of waking up super early as the Perseids “typically produce the most meteors in the wee hours before dawn.”
In other words, just look up into the sky. There’s almost no bad time to catch this shower.
If you have the flexibility and want a prime viewing location, the Los Angeles Griffith Observatory suggests finding a “wilderness location, far from the effects of urban light pollution.” If you’re going all out, the observatory suggests positioning your sleeping bag or chair so that you’re facing east or northeast.
The Perseids often peak at 50 or more meteors per hour in a dark sky, EarthSky says. This year, however, the meteors are expected to fly at a rate closer to 50 or 60 meteors per hour.
Stargazers are also in for an added treat: The moon will brush past Venus and Jupiter in the eastern predawn sky, EarthSky says, adding: “You can’t ask for more!”