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Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Beyond the Weather: Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend


"The moon will be near new moon, it will be a crescent, which means it will set before the Perseid show gets underway after midnight", NASA's Bill Cooke told Space.com. And conditions for viewing the meteors will be next to ideal this year. "You can look anywhere you want to - even directly overhead". Nope! Although the peaks are the best times (as long as there's no moonlight), annual meteor showers typically last weeks, not days... building up gradually and then falling off rapidly. The Perseids takes place every year between July 17 and August 24.

The Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak the night of August 12, into the wee hours of the morning on August 13.

From Aug.11-13, the Perseid meteor shower will send between 60 and 70 meteors shooting across the sky every hour. That's fewer than the 150-200 meteors per hour that can be seen in years when the shower is in outburst, but will likely still make for quite the show. Your rooftop may not be the best solution, especially if you're in downtown (you need to get as far away from light pollution as possible). Look to the northeast about 40 degrees off the horizon. "The average particle size is that of large sand grain but some small pea gravel-size meteors can cause bright fireballs that light up the sky and ground", he continued.

Not only will the night sky be dark, but also clear, according to Matt Walters, a meteorologist with Topeka's National Weather Service. "Peak rates will be just before dawn".

Unlike other celestial sightings that require a telescope or binoculars, the best way to watch a meteor shower is with the naked eye.

That's when the peak will start to build as Earth drifts through the most dense part of a cloud of cosmic debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which passes by our planet and the sun once every 133 years.

"A meteor shower is a collision between the Earth and the trail of a comet or an asteroid", Dr. Faherty says.

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