10 August 2014

Perseid Meteor Shower 2014 - what to expect

This year’s Perseid Meteor Shower will peak on August 11-12-13 and should offer up a moderately pleasing view of meteors but will be impacted by the nearly Full Moon. Meteors come in all sizes and shapes and during a reliable shower like the Perseids, you can see them all. However, moonlight increases the ambient lighting of the entire night sky and consequently makes the faint meteors all but invisible. The medium-strength meteors and the fireballs will shine through the glare of course, so the Perseids will have a showing, but just not at the rate we often see during a truly dark sky shower.

Perseid Meteor
I’ve often written that meteor showers are best viewed after midnight, when we are turned toward the path of Earth’s orbit (we are on the “front-face of Earth” after midnight), and we get better meteors. This still holds true, but in a recent article in Sky & Telescope, author Alan MacRobert suggests that early evening is a very good time to look for earth-grazers, meteors that enter the Earth’s atmosphere as a low angle and can be seen for much longer periods of time.  I will certainly be looking for these. I’m not an all-night observer and prefer looking out into the sky waiting for meteors when I am a bit more awake. So the idea of seeing grazers carries appeal for me in more ways than one. Last week on Mt. Tam we witnessed some spectacular meteors, one of which had a trajectory that suggested it was an early Perseid grazer.

For more information on the Perseids, check out these resources.

Image courtesy of Stefano De Rosa 


Catherine M. said...

Tonight I saw the largest meteor of my life swish across the night sky south of Dallas at 1:38 am. It was a huge bright green fireball - totally exciting. I almost crashed my car I was so struck by it.

jimmy said...

So, I live in NYC and went out yesterday at dusk and saw this huge fireball coming across the city heading north west. At first I was calm (not knowing at the time that a meteor shower was expected) but as it came closer and stopped burning, it leaves this humongous rock tumbling across the sky and all I could think was "We're all doomed".

The size of this thing was ridiculous and if that would have hit anything on this planet, I feel we would have been wiped out.

So, my questions is this. What the heck was that!? Isn't meteors supposed to dissolve after entering the atmosphere?
And also, that rock must've gone down somewhere, why am I not dead yet?

Thankful for answers...



Anonymous said...

I was so excited to watch meteors, but on August 12 and August 13, it rained all night and the skies, full of clouds. this is how Seattle is 61F, Percip chance 40%, CLOUDY.