News Sections
Audio
Perseid Meteor Shower To Reach Its Peak This Weekend
Updated August 10, 2017 8:22 AM
 Print    Archive    RSS
perseid.jpg
perseid1.jpg

(UNDATED) - The annual Perseid meteor shower will peak on Friday and Saturday nights.

Unfortunately, this year the moon will interfere with the shower's peak for mid-northern observers. In a dark sky the shower may produce as many as 150 visible meteors per hour, but this time moonlight will wash out the fainter ones, says Hal Kibbey, retired science writer for Indiana University and an amateur astronomer.

Still, 15 to 30 of the brightest meteors should be visible each hour, some with smoke trails that will last several seconds after the meteor has vanished.

The Perseids will be visible for most of August, though there will be fewer meteors to see the further from the peak date you watch.

If the peak is hidden by clouds, try looking for meteors again as soon as the night sky is clear. To minimize the effect of local light pollution, which can obscure as many as half of the meteors, try to avoid artificial lights. Face east if you have a clear view in that direction, and look about halfway up the sky from the horizon. You won't need binoculars or a telescope, because the meteors move much too fast for those devices. The chances of seeing a fireball will be greatest near dawn, when Earth will be moving head-on into the meteor stream.

The Perseids may appear anywhere in the sky, but they will seem to originate from a point called the radiant in the constellation Perseus, which gives these "shooting stars" their name. The higher the radiant is above the northeastern horizon, the more meteors will be visible. Perseus is just north of the W-shaped constellation Cassiopeia in the Milky Way, with the bright star Capella and the Pleiades star cluster below it. Meteors near the radiant will have short trails because we see them nearly straight on, while those far from the radiant will look longer because they are seen from the side.

Most meteor showers happen when Earth crosses the orbit of a comet; the Perseids come from Comet Swift Tuttle. The meteors are caused by particles released from the comet's nucleus and left behind in space. As Earth plows through this stream of debris, ranging in size from sand grains to pebbles, each particle slams into our atmosphere at a speed of more than 30 miles per second and burns up almost instantly from friction with air molecules. The resulting heat momentarily creates a streak of glowing air that we see as a meteor.

All of this happens about 60 miles above the ground, regardless of how close some meteors may appear.



« Previous Article
Next Article »

 Print    Archive    RSS

Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to comments@wbiw.com

Advertise with 1340 AM WBIW
Find more about Weather in Bedford, IN
Advertise with 1340 AM WBIW


1340 AM WBIW, Bedford's Place To Talk. Serving Lawrence and surrounding counties since 1948!

© 2017 Ad-Venture Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.   WBIW.com and Listen Live Powered by HPC

Advertise  |  Careers  |  Contests  |  About  |  Feedback