Bright moon may spoil Perseid meteor shower viewing this weekend

A long exposure captured this Perseid meteor in 2015
A long exposure captured this Perseid meteor in 2015
Author

12 August, 2017

We are being treated to one of nature's most impressive spectacles at the moment as the Pereids meteor shower lights up the night sky, but you don't have much longer to see it. Earthsky.org has suggestions for minimizing the moon's influence and catch glimpses of some of the year's brightest shooting stars.

There is a presentation about the meteor shower for about 20 minutes starting at 9 p.m. highlighting what causes the event.

Henderson said he would have liked if the moon were less bright this weekend.

Every year as Earth orbits around the sun and through the wake of the Swift-Tuttle Comet, bits of debris from the 17-mile-wide icy space ball enter the Earth's atmosphere at 133,000 miles per hour, reaching temperatures of 3,000 to 10,000 degrees and creating the meteors stargazers see in the sky.

Just look up! The meteors will be seen as streaks across the sky.

The Leonid meteor storms, which occur each November, of the late 1990s and early 2000s were much more spectacular, he said, and had rates 10 times greater than the best Perseid display.

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Larger pieces (even just pea-sized) can blossom into a trailing "fireball" that sears both the night sky and viewers' retinas. So, no moonlight and a viewing location away from the light pollution created by our big cities gives you the best opportunity to see some...but we'll have that moonlight this year.

The meteors will be sparser around at that time but, the IMO says, "these meteors tend to be very long and long-lasting so it is definitely worth trying to see some of them".

"The eyes will take at least 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness before they are able to spot the meteors".

It's the time of year when we get to watch what is typically the best meteor shower of the year. "This bright moon will obliterate all but the brightest Perseid meteors". "At best, they outburst from a normal rate of 80-100 meteors per hour to a few hundred per hour", he says in a statement. "From the direction and speed of the glowing meteoroid, its orbit in space was calculated". Once these bits of comet debris hit Earth's atmosphere, the meteors are heated to almost 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, in the north sky beneath the more recognizable "W" of Cassiopeia.


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