Wake up, stargazers!
The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, a celestial vision of the meteors showering through a starlit galaxy. The Perseid meteor showers, which have been active for over a month, are set to peak in the dark hours before dawn on the morning of August 13. It’s four days after the new moon on August 8 which makes for stellar sky-gazing conditions, according to Space.com.
Viewable from anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, the Perseid meteor showers will rain down from the heavens peaking on the mornings of August 11, 12, and 13. As per EarthSky, “the greatest number of meteors is most likely to fall in the predawn hours on August 13. They advise you to plan for at least an hour of stargazing time sometime between midnight and dawn. Check out this light pollution map to find a dark sky near you!
According to EarthSky, the key factor is the moon; i.e. the more light cast from the moon or otherwise, the more obscure the sight of the meteor showers becomes.
Although rates of Perseids will be highest from the early morning hours of August 12 until August 14, all told, the meteor shower will last about two weeks, from July 25 to August 18. The showers will also be active in evening hours, but at a much lower rate.
During peak hours, stargazers will be able to see from 40 – 50 meteors per hour. The showers will also be active in evening hours, but at a much lower rate. Although, evenings are the most opportune time to spot an earth grazer — a rare, low-flying meteor that traverses horizontally across the horizon.
The Perseid meteor showers occur every year beginning in July. The first record of this phenomenon can be traced back to 36 AD. Since then, numerous references to the showers have been recorded throughout the millennia. The showers get their name from the Perseus constellation of their origin. The phenomenon occurs as a result of Earth colliding with the orbital path of the comet, Swift-Tuttle:
“Dusty debris left behind by this comet smashes into Earth’s upper atmosphere, lighting up the nighttime as fiery Perseid meteors.”
While you might have picture-perfect 20/20 vision, you’d do yourself one better by coming equipped with binoculars to get a closer look at the interstellar spectacle.
[Featured image from Shutterstock]