Fri., August 10 5:44 7:48
Sat., August 11 5:45 7:47
Sun., August 12 5:46 7:46
Mon., August 13 5:47 7:44
Tues., August 14 5:48 7:43
Wed., August 15 5:49 7:41
Thurs., August 16 5:50 7:40
Fri., August 17 5:51 7:38
Tomorrow is an important time in the summer for those who love to look up at night. The Perseid meteor shower takes place, with the best viewing after midnight. It is possible to see a lesser number of meteors from that shower throughout the weekend, including tonight.
The Perseid meteor shower is one of a dozen showers that occur annually. For a short time, usually a night or two, many meteors (also called falling stars) appear to fall from the sky.
The Perseid meteor shower is named after the Perseus constellation from which it appears to radiate. In fact, the shower originates from orbiting comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. The comet circles the sun at an elliptical orbit that remains in place relative to Earth’s orbit. Once a year, sometime between August 11 and 12, Earth passes through that comet’s orbit. The earth goes through at least a dozen similar comet orbits from year to year.
Meteors are small pieces of space debris that enter our atmosphere and burn up before they hit the ground. They usually are no bigger than a marble or a golf ball. Sometimes they are bigger, and when that happens, their entry into our atmosphere draws significantly more attention. Larger meteors are called fireball meteors.
The Perseid shower is a stable and productive shower. Astronomers estimate one can count as many as 50 meteors in an hour after midnight, though we are usually lucky to see half as many.
The moon will interfere only slightly. Though it brightens the sky, it doesn’t rise in the east until well after midnight.