Perseid Meteor Shower

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Perseid Meteor Shower

It’s time for the Perseid Meteor Shower! The Perseid Shower is an annual event that occurs around the end of July until the beginning of August. Peak dates for this shower are August 11-13th. At it’s peak, under moonless skies up to 60 meteors an hour can be seen. The Perseid Meteor Shower is the result of  Earth passing through the debris field left behind the comet Swift-Tuttle. The particles (sometimes being only as big as a grain of sand) strike the earth’s atmosphere at ~130,000 mph, causing the burn up and spectacular light.  It is one of the brightest showers of the year, making it one of the easiest to see. However, this year, there are obstacles in the way.

In addition to the meteors, we are experiencing one of this years “supermoons” (a bigger and brighter than average moon) [click here for more info]. The moon will not be completely full at this point. It will be in it’s Waning Gibbous Phase and will be anywhere from 98-87% full. It will, still be close enough and full enough to be brighter than average. This will create a little more light pollution and not allow for optimal viewing.

If that’s not enough, thunderstorms are expected to enter the region starting Sunday and will last until Wednesday afternoon. While thunderstorms typically die off in the overnight hours, daytime heating and instability, with this particular system, can create a scenario that will keep some going overnight (especially Monday into Tuesday). Even if there are no thunderstorms present, the leftover cloud coverage will still linger overnight. Therefore, viewing is not looking good this year for the Perseid Shower. Keep up with StormWatch 12 for Wednesday night’s cloud forecast.

Viewing: The best viewing times for the Perseid Meteor Shower will be the mornings of the 11-13th of August just after midnight until just before dawn. Look towards the Northeast sky (towards the constellation Perseus) at the beginning and then closer to the zenith (straight up) as the night progresses. Hopefully, there will be enough of a break in the cloud coverage to get somewhat of a view.

Meteorologist Seth Phillips