The well known recurrent event the known as the Perseid Meteor Showers is expected to peak late on August 12th and into the early morning hours of the 13th. Though this shower is generally one os the best for producing highly visible shooting stars, this year is expected to be especially vibrant. This is mostly as a result of the fact that its peak coincides with the new moon and results in a very dark viewing sky.
The Perseids are named for the constellation Perseus, that the meteors appear to emanate from. The shower is caused by Earth passing through a field of cosmic debris left by the passing of comet Swift-Tuttle through Earth’s orbit. This occurs every year, generally in mid-late August. During the peak of the shower as many as 110 meteors per hour can be seen in the darkest areas, while most viewers will be treated to between 50-60 per hour even with mild light pollution. No special equipment is required, just try to get away for the bright lights of the city, find somewhere with a wide open view of the sky, lie back, relax, and enjoy the cosmic show.
Some things to remember:
1. Plan at least an hour to get the maximum effect. This allows your eyes to adjust to the darkness.
2. Your eyes can take up to 30 minutes to fully adjust to the darkness, try to avoid looking at any light sources including cellphone screens, flashlights, or flames.
3. Altitude can be helpful. If you live in an area with mountains try to use them to both distance yourself from light pollution and get above any lingering haze.
The Perseids will be the last large scale meteor event until the Orionids take place in late October.