Look Wednesday, Thursday for ‘best’ meteor shower of year

Perseids, John Fowler file photo

This week will provide the best chance to see the annual Perseid meteor shower.  This is widely considered the best annual meteor shower, largely because it’s the brightest.

Every year, in late July through the middle of August, Earth passes very quickly through debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. “Those streaks of light are really caused by tiny specks of comet-stuff hitting Earth’s atmosphere at very high speed and disintegrating in flashes of light,” NASA says about the meteor shower.

PHOTOS: Hubble Space Telescope’s best photos

This week will provide the best chance to see the annual Perseid meteor shower.  This is widely considered the best annual meteor shower, largely because it’s the brightest.

Every year, in late July through the middle of August, Earth passes very quickly through debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. “Those streaks of light are really caused by tiny specks of comet-stuff hitting Earth’s atmosphere at very high speed and disintegrating in flashes of light,” NASA says about the meteor shower.

Meteor showers get their names from the constellations they appear to originate from.  In this case we will be looking for the constellation Perseus. “The meteors will always travel in a path away from the constellation for which the shower is named,” NASA explains.

During the Perseids, around 100 meteors can be seen per hour in the darkest areas. You’ll see far fewer meteors per hour the closer to light you are because the fainter ones will be taken out of the equation. The number one rule in viewing a meteor shower is to limit light pollution.

“Let your eyes hang loose and don’t look in any one specific spot,” NASA says. “Relaxed eyes will quickly zone in on any movement up above, and you’ll be able to spot more meteors.”

Viewing Tips:

  • Just use your eyes. Telescopes and binoculars will limit your view. Avoid looking at your cell phone.
  • Give your eyes about 30 min to adjust to darkness.
  • The meteor shower has been ongoing since the last few days of July, but the peak will be the overnights of August 12th and 13th. The best time to see them will be around midnight or shortly thereafter.
  • Perseus sits in the northeast sky so you want to find a nice chunk of sky in that direction.
  • Be patient. Have a blanket and look up. If you’re in a dark place it shouldn’t take long to see the sights.

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