07 August 2016

Perseid Meteor Shower 2016

One of the finest meteor showers of the year, the Perseid Meteor Shower, arrives over a two day viewing window from 11 to 12 August. With a first quarter moon setting near or shortly after midnight, the Moon will provide some distraction during the evenings, but the dedicated meteor seeker will be rewarded with dark skies after midnight when meteor showers naturally reach their peak.

To see the Perseids (or any meteor shower, for that matter), you will be best served by a dark location away from streetlights and ideally away from city lights. If you are in a fully light polluted city and cannot get to a dark rooftop or garden, then your chances of seeing many meteors are poor. However, any step you can take to eliminate light will help, from switching off your own house lights to avoiding streetlights to traveling outside of a city to the beach, desert or mountains. Why? Meteors come in all shapes and sizes and during a meteor shower many of the meteors that sail into Earth's atmosphere produce only a brief, faint trail of heated gas in their wake. Some, of course, are large and visible for longer periods, cover a greater portion of the sky, and are so bright that you cannot miss them. So to improve your odds of seeing more meteors and increase your enjoyment, find a dark spot, bring a lawn chair or blankets so you have a good view of the sky overhead, and relax while the show unfolds. And be prepared to stay up late for the best viewing.

Meteors are also fickle in that they come in groups, sometimes with two or three brights ones in a minute, and then there might be 10 minutes in which you see none and you start to give up hope. But the Perseids will deliver so you just need to be patient.

Universe2go created a great infographic that I have attached to this blogpost. Click to enlarge or download and print. It's a good resource guide for the meteor shower.

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