Science

More than 100 shooting stars expected in weekend’s Perseid meteor shower peak

More than 100 shooting stars expected in weekend’s Perseid meteor shower peak”

This weekend (August 12-13th) marks the peak period to view the Perseids across all of North America.

Last year's shower was especially active, delivering up to 150 meteors an hour expected at its height, and while this year the shooting stars won't be quite as regular, stargazers can still expect to see around 70 of them an hour. "New Moon occurs on the 11th so it will not wash out the sky with its brilliance like other years". And human habitation in the area can be dated as far back as 10,000 years ago, making this dark sky park the most ancient site in America to view the Perseids.

The Perseid meteors are leftover debris from the "Swift-Tuttle" comet. Records of the meteor shower date back nearly 2,000 years.

Once evening falls Sunday, expect to see a meteor, or a "shooting star", streaking across the sky every few minutes.

This year's shower will be putting on its best display for those in Europe, but as it's peak last so long, from the 11th to 12th, it should also put on a spectacular display for the United States and elsewhere in the northern hemisphere. "You don't want binoculars". The number will then start to diminish, though higher-than-average meteor activity associated with the Perseids should be visible through August 24.

Where are the best places to go to see the Perseid meteor shower?

When observed from the Earth the meteors only appear to be bursting out from the constellation but in reality the Perseus has no bearing on the Swift-Tuttle debris. The August shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus because the meteors appear to originate there.

"Relax, be patient, and let your eyes adapt to the darkness", J. Kelly Beatty, senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, said in a statement.

Every summer, Earth ploughs through this thick trail (this year, it entered the trail on July 17, and it will exit on August 24), allowing some of the comet's ancient debris to enter and burn up in our planet's atmosphere.

If you're unable to see the Perseids this year in person, you can always watch them online. The Perseids are best seen after 11 PM, away from city lights, and while looking at the northeastern sky.



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