Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend - here’s how to watch
09 August, 2018, 19:10 | Author: Sherry Houston
There's no need to worry about meteors raining down on you, though, as Sky and Telescope says the bright streaks of the Perseids burning up are actually about 80 miles (128,748 meters) above your head and created by pieces of space debris about the size of a small pebble.
The shooting stars will appear to come from a single point, or "radiant", situated in the constellation Perseus, that climbs higher as the night progresses.
The best weather conditions to see the meteor shower peak are clear and cloudless skies with little to none moonlight.
What's great about the Perseids is they can be enjoyed during summer's warmth, unlike the often nippy nights during the Leonids of November or Geminids of December. Find a comfortable spot with as a wide a view of the night sky as possible, preferably away from light pollution, and just relax, lie back and look up.
Also present in the night sky at this time is Mars, which will hang low in the south east.
In August 2016, the shower produced about 150 meteors an hour and in 2009, the estimated peak was about 173 but some of the fainter meteors could have been washed out by Moonlight.
If you'd rather watch the Perseid meteor shower from the comfort of your own home, the Virtual Telescope Project is live broadcasting the shower from scenic Castel Santa Maria, Italy, beginning at 4:30 p.m. EST on August 12.
Why does a meteor shower occur?
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The meteors we see in August are fragments left by the comet Swift-Tuttle.
"A meteor shower is a collision between the Earth and the trail of a comet or an asteroid", Dr. Faherty says.
Every between mid-July and the last week of August the Earth approaches the comet's orbital path.
What else should I look out for in the sky?
Timeanddate.com provides tables indicating when the showers are active and even gives some nice tips on how to best watch the performance.
When is the next meteor shower?
On the odd occasion, however, the shower has been known to exceed all expectations during the peak.
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