The Perseid meteor shower, the annual celestial light-show that calls the most widely observed and dependable meteor display of the year, will peak tonight and early tomorrow morning. NASA says this year’s show promises to be more spectacular than usual. “If you see one meteor shower this year, make it August’s Perseids or December’s Geminids,” according to the space agency. “The Perseids feature fast and bright meteors that frequently leave trains, and in 2015 there will be no moonlight to upstage the shower.”
And Jupiter is positioning this year will make for even better viewing, as the planet’s gravitational field can “slightly perturb the comet particles, just enough to nudge them closer to the Earth.” At peak activity during the shower, the meteor count could be up to 100 meteors per hour, NASA says, with meteors radiating from the direction of the constellation Perseus. The Washington Post says that “cloud cover forecasts suggest the viewing will be good over much of the Eastern and Western U.S., with the potential for cloudiness from the central Rockies to the Upper Midwest.”
NASA plans to livestream the shower, from 10 p.m. ET tonight through 2 a.m. NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel spoke with Rhiannon Blaauw of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office last year about tips on watching the Perseids. She told him, “Just lie on your back, look straight up, give your eyes time to adjust to the dark; it takes longer than people think. “The Perseids, the dusty debris of Comet Swift-Tuttle, whisk through our upper atmosphere every August.
They aren’t the only meteor shower on the calendar, but ‘the Perseids are the good ones,’ says meteorite expert Bill Cooke of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The Perseids also provide a great opportunity for photography. Point your camera toward the northeast, and leave the shutter open for at least a minute. Do this several times in succession, and you’re almost certain to catch a few Perseids.
As always, we will like to see your pictures.