Perseids to peak next weekend
What promises to be the best meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, will peak on the nights of Aug. 11-12, next weekend, and viewing conditions should be close to ideal, provided the weather cooperates. This isn’t an outburst year for the Perseids, when as many as 200 meteors an hour can fill the night skies, but skywatchers should still be able to see about one meteor a minute if they’re patient. It takes our eyes at least 10 minutes to adjust to the darkness so that the meteors are easy to spot. And the best thing about meteor showers in August? It won’t be 12 degrees outside. Fortunately, the moon will be close to new on Aug. 11-12, and will set before the Perseids likely reach their nightly peak.
The Perseid meteor shower emanates from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Earth is spending several weeks this summer spinning across its path, with the densest part of that path intersecting with our orbit next weekend. The meteors are extremely small, about the size of a grain of sand, and move extremely fast, at 37 miles per second. Virtually all of them burn up in our atmosphere.