Look Up! 2017 Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend

Look adult Friday and Saturday nights (Aug. 11 and 12) for this year’s Perseid meteor shower peak.


For Northern Hemisphere observers, Aug is customarily regarded as “meteor month,” with one of a best displays of a year reaching a rise nearby midmonth. That arrangement is, of course, a annual Perseid meteor shower, that is dear by meteor enthusiasts and summer campers alike. But skywatchers beware: You will face a vital barrier in your try to observe this year’s Perseid opening — namely, a moon. (Live in a large city? Find out how to see a Perseids from civic areas here from a sister site Active Junky.)

As (bad) fitness would have it, this year, a moon incited full on Aug. 7, and it will be during a rather splendid loss gibbous proviso several nights later, severely hampering regard of a rise of a Perseids, expected to start on a night of Aug. 11-12. (Aug. 12-13 will also have high rates, as a comprehensive rise is during a day Aug. 12, though will also be vaporous by a moon.) [Perseid Meteor Shower 2017: When, Where How to See It]

Moonrise on Aug. 11 comes during around 10:20 p.m. internal time, while on Aug. 12, it’s during around 10:50 p.m. The moon will be hovering subsequent and to a left of a Great Square of Pegasus these nights and not all that distant from a constellation Perseus, from where a meteors will seem to emanate (hence a name “Perseid”). Perseus does not start to mount high adult into a northeast sky until around midnight; by dawn, it’s scarcely overhead. But splendid light will inundate a sky by many of those dual pivotal nights and will positively play massacre with any critical attempts to observe these meteors.

So, unfortunately, a moon intervenes to spoil a Perseid’s best, even if your partial of a nation is sanctified with transparent skies.

You do have options to watch a 2017 Perseids online. On Saturday, a online Slooh village observatory will horde a giveaway webcast of a Perseids here, commencement during 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT). The webcast will also seem on Space.com, pleasantness of Slooh.

The Virtual Telescope Project formed in Italy will horde a live webcast Saturday during 4:50 p.m. EDT (2050 GMT). You can watch that Perseids webcast live here at start time.

The Perseids are already around, carrying been active, nonetheless diseased and scattered, given around Jul 17. But a conspicuous upswing in Perseid activity has taken place during a final few nights, heading adult to a meteors’ imminent peak. They are typically fast and bright, and they spasmodic leave determined trains. Every once in a while, a Perseid fireball will fire forth, splendid adequate to be utterly fantastic and some-more than able of attracting courtesy even in splendid moonlight.

Even some-more hapless than a brightness, a moon is full on Aug. 7, so it will always be above a setting during a predawn morning hours (when Perseid observation is during a best) in a few days before a peak. So light will even spoil a light boost in a shower’s meteor rates. The moon arrives during final entertain on Aug. 14, and thereafter, a light becomes many reduction objectionable. But by that time a rise of a arrangement will have prolonged given passed, withdrawal usually a few slow Perseid stragglers in a wake. 

The Perseid meteor showering peaks before emergence on Saturday, Aug 12. It is always a many arguable in a year, though this year a loss gibbous moon will bushel observation efforts.
Credit: SkySafari App

We know currently that these meteors are a leftover waste strew by Comet Swift-Tuttle along a orbit. Discovered behind in 1862, this comet takes approximately 130 years to round a sun. And in many a same approach that a Tempel-Tuttle comet leaves a route of waste along a circuit to furnish a fantastic Leonid meteors of November, Swift-Tuttle produces a waste route along a orbit, causing a Perseids. 

Indeed, each year during mid-August, when a Earth passes tighten to a circuit of Swift-Tuttle, a element left behind by a comet from a prior visits rams into Earth’s atmosphere during approximately 37 miles per second (60 km/s) to emanate splendid streaks of light in a midsummer night skies. [Top 10 Perseid Meteor Shower Facts]

Most years, in a deficiency of splendid moonlight, a singular spectator examination from a transparent and really dim plcae competence see adult to 90 meteors per hour on a rise night. This year, however, observers will see closer to 40-50. 

But in 2018, a rise night will coincide with a new moon, creation for a many opposite story. The skies will indeed be dim and meteors expected plentiful. As they used to contend in Brooklyn, when a Dodgers played during aged Ebbets Field, “Just wait ’til subsequent year!”

After a Perseids have gone, there is one final summer meteor showering left: a Kappa Cygnids (followed by a Orionids in a final half of October). The observation duration for this teenager showering are rather brief — Aug. 19-22 — with a rise on a 21st. Though a limit rate is usually 4 per hour, this tide does yield an occasional flaring fireball, and a clever spectator might be easily rewarded for a time spent. Sometimes, only a singular fantastic intent can make an whole night of examination worthwhile. 

The observation resources for a 2017 Kappa Cygnids are a best possible, given their rise this year coincides with a new moon — a same new moon that will obscure a sun on that really same day. The constellation Cygnus, from that these meteors seem to radiate, is also popularly famous as a Northern Cross. This cranky will distortion directly beyond during around midnight and will mount honest on a northwest setting when emergence is violation about 5 hours later.

Editor’s note: If we snap an overwhelming print of Perseid meteors that you’d like to share with Space.com and a news partners for a intensity story or gallery, send images and comments in to spacephotos@space.com.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest techer during New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, a Farmers’ Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for Fios1 News in Rye Brook, N.Y. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original essay on Space.com.


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