Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Science | By

Meteor shower of the year coming up

Meteor shower of the year coming up

Meteor showers are caused when meteoroids, who were once part of a comet or asteroid, start hitting Earth's atmosphere in streams.

Every year, in mid-August, Earth passes collides with particles spread along the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle.

The Perseids are dust and debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle, AccuWeather explains.

Anyone who was disappointed by the brightness of the almost full moon obscuring the Perseid meteor shower a year ago will have a chance to turn their stargazing luck around this month.

This makes the summertime display one of only three annual showers that produce this many.

Although we won't see the comet itself, we will still witness the trail of debris left by it.


Last year's shower was especially active, delivering up to 150 meteors an hour expected at its height, and while this year the shooting stars won't be quite as regular, stargazers can still expect to see around 70 of them an hour. Bill Cooke, a scientist at NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office in Alabama, framed the phenomenon well in a 2016 interview with NASA.

This year there will be favourable viewing conditions. Best of all, constellations and the Milky Way should be highly visible due to a New Moon on August 11, meaning there will not be as much light to drown out the stars.

Perhaps you might remember an unbelievable meteor show back in the early 1990s? Though the shower hasn't yet reached its peak, observers have already reported spotting short bursts of high meteor activity (15 meteors per minute) at times, as well as significant meteor activity (~100) over several hours.

You might be able to catch a handful or maybe even a dozen meteors per hour in the weeknights leading up to the main event that will coincide roughly with the new moon (meaning the moon is absent from the night sky) on Saturday evening. However, this year with a dark clear sky, it's possible to see an wonderful light show.

The meteors strike our atmosphere at around 134,000 miles per hour and create vivid streaks of light when they burn up. "Remember, you don't have to look directly at the constellation to see them".

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