As many as 100 meteors, or shooting stars, can be seen per hour during the shower's peak between Saturday and Monday.
A new moon on August 11 means there’s a good chance to see the annual Perseid meteor shower as we head into the weekend, according to astronomers.
As many as 100 meteors, or shooting stars, can be seen per hour during the shower’s peak between Saturday and Monday. In the Puget Sound region, the National Weather Service forecasts clear skies Thursday and Sunday, likely making those two days the best for viewing.
The shower is the result of Earth encountering the gritty debris of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, according to Gary Boyle, an astronomy educator, guest speaker and monthly columnist for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada who is known as “The Backyard Astronomer.”
Boyle says the meteors strike the earth’s atmosphere at around 134,000 miles per hour, causing long streaks that completely vaporize. On his website, he explains that most of the particles are about the size of a grain of sand, but pieces that are pea-gravel-sized can cause bright fireballs that light up the sky and ground.
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In addition to the showers, lucky sky watchers may see the Milky Way stretching from the south into the overhead dome, Boyle said in a news release. Saturn will be visible in the band of stars above Sagittarius and Mars will be out all night, hanging low in the southeast as the sky darkens.
There’s no need for special equipment or astronomical knowledge to enjoy the shower. Here are a few tips from EarthSky for maximum viewing pleasure:
- Find a dark, open sky.
- Give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness.
- Know that the meteors all come from a single point in the sky. If you trace the paths of the Perseid meteors backward, you’ll find they all come from a point in front of the constellation Perseus.