The Perseid meteor shower is underway!
We know a meteor shower is going to be good when it produces dozens of fireballs a week before the shower peaks. This is the Perseids. The best meteor shower of the year peaks Aug. 11th-13th when Earth passes through a stream of debris from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. 37 Perseid fireballs were counted during the weekend of Aug. 4th-5th. One was almost as bright as the Moon.
The Perseid meteor shower is always good, but this year should be super-good. We’ll have a New Moon at the shower’s peak, giving us a dark sky, giving us as many as 100 meteors per hour. As usual, the best time to look is during the dark hours before sunrise, so check it out on Sunday, August 12th, and again on Monday, August 13th. At those early hours , the shower’s point of origin will be high in the sky, and meteors will appear to go in all directions.
If you can, get away from city lights to a dark place, and look up. The Perseids can appear in any part of the sky, but all of their trails will point back toward the constellation Perseus.
If midnight to 5 am is too late (or early) for you, try looking for Perseids around 10 pm when the point of origin (radiant) is just at the northern horizon. At that time, meteors skim the top of the atmosphere, producing long colorful fireballs called “Earthgrazers.” There won’t be many, but even one is impressive. Enjoy the show!