Perseids peak this week in one of the brightest meteor showers of the year
The peak of the Perseid meteor shower, a favorite among astronomy fans, is set for the nights of Aug. 11-12 and favorable viewing conditions are in store across the Plains and the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys.
"It's one of the two best annual meteor showers, and the only one that happens during warm weather," Slooh Astronomer Bob Berman said.
The Perseids is a favorite among stargazers due to these meteors being brighter than most showers, according to Slooh, a community observatory that has connected telescopes to the Internet for public use.
The Perseids will peak when Earth passes the thickest part of the debris stream on Aug. 11-12. Slooh stated that in a clear, dark sky as many as 60 meteors can be seen in an hour. With a new moon on Aug. 14, skies will be dark all night, providing excellent viewing conditions.
The Perseids are similar to most meteor showers in that they are simply dust-sized pieces of icy debris expelled from a comet, according to Slooh.
Check out pics from the Geminid meteor shower:
Berman stated that the best time to view the Perseids would be after midnight both Tuesday and Wednesday nights. He added that "people away from cities should see one a minute starting at midnight both nights; but city dwellers will only see the brightest ones, reducing the number to maybe one every 10 minutes. Also, an open area of sky is best. Don't just try to peek between trees or buildings."
Stargazers who will encounter inclement weather or cloudy skies can view Slooh's live broadcast of the meteor shower below starting at 8 p.m. EDT on Aug. 12.
For observers across New England, an area of low pressure will bring clouds and thunderstorms during the meteor shower, resulting in poor viewing conditions, stated AccuWeather Meteorologist Jordan Root.
"Farther south across the mid-Atlantic, clouds from this system may clear out in time for viewers to catch a glimpse of the nighttime sky, but folks along the Southeast coast will not be so lucky," Root said.
A storm system bringing clouds to the central High Plains could disrupt viewing conditions at times, but not all night.
"The best viewing conditions will certainly be across the Plains, Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, and into the Tennessee Valley as a large area of high pressure will keep clouds away," Root said.
Root added that clear skies will be present across most of the West and southern Plains, making for excellent viewing conditions.
"Perseids are reliable, and one-third of them leave behind lingering "trains" that glow for a second or two after the meteor is gone," Berman said.
The first recorded observation of the Perseids was taken by Chinese astronomers in 36 A.D.