The Perseid Meteor Shower Is Peaking
The best meteor shower of the summer is here!
The best meteor shower of the summer starts peaking tonight with up to 75 meteors per hour. I’ve seen about fifty over the past few nights in a two hour time frame (11 to 1). Tonight will be patchy clouds, we will have to look between clouds.
The preferred time for viewing the peak is at 11 PM to 1 AM as it will be the darkest time of night before the moon rises. The show will last until dawn.
Find a nice dark spot, lay back and watch the whole sky. Trying to catch one on the camera has become a new favorite challenge, just keep shooting. You can set up a Go Pro to shoot the shooting stars while you sleep. When you see one and it isn’t in frame of the camera it can be frustrating, don’t change the camera angle just keep shooting. I’ve been using my 18mm lens at 25 seconds, F3.5 and ISO 400.
The the Delta Aquariid meteor shower is still active too. You can sit out at night in August, stare at the sky and see the occasional meteor. We see them a lot when we are surf fishing at night. I would love ot see a meteor storm one of these days.
The radiant point for the Perseid meteor shower is in the constellation Perseus. You can use the star tracker apps to find it easily enough. The source of the Perseid meteors is from the earth crossing the orbital path of Comet Swift-Tuttle. The debris left behind is pulled into our gravity and become meteors (shooting stars). The comet debris is known as meteoroids. Rarely do meteors make the ground, but if they do then they are meteorites. That comet won’t pass us again until July 2126, it passed last in December 1992.
Meteors will start mid to late evening about 9 pm, but the best viewing is after 11 PM.
If you are lucky, you will see an earthgrazer. When the radiant is close to the horizon, as the earth moves into the debris field. Meteors will streak through the upper atmosphere and back into space or burn up crossing through the atmosphere. They produce a very long, slow bright colorful meteor. These can light up the entire sky for a hot second. The colors produced are the elements or minerals burning up. Similar to tossing a piece of copper wire in a fire and it burns green.
Viewing is easy, find a nice dark place away from any light pollution. Look towards the constellation Perseus in the northeast sky. The beach is a great place to view this shower. Let your eyes get adjusted to the dark for a half hour to get a better view. It can take over 20 minutes just for your eyes to get used to the dark. Put down the phone, that will ruin your eyes for the show. Keep the moon out of your line of site if possible.