Perseids meteor shower peaks tonight

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Radiant of the Perseid metoer shower. Illustration credit: NASA

Radiant of the Perseid metoer shower. Illustration credit: NASA

The Perseid meteor shower, one of the brighter natural events of the year, will peak around August 12-13 so if rain clouds clear away tonight would make an opportune time to enjoy the cosmic light show.

Consisting of tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseids are named after the Perseus because the direction from which the shower seems to come lies in the same direction as the constellation, in the north-eastern part of the sky.

While the skies light up several time a year by other meteor showers, the Perseids are widely sought after by astronomers and stargazers every August. At its peak, one can view 60 to a 100 meteors in an hour from a dark place.

There isn’t a lot of skill involved in watching a meteor shower, but some tips on how to maximize your experience include getting out of the city to a place where artificial lights do not impede viewing, and make yourself comfortable.

If viewing the shower during its peak without special equipment, you should be able to see the show with your naked eyes.

Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you – viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.

Check the weather, including moon-rise and -set times for your location, and plan your viewing around it. This year’s Perseid meteor shower should be at its most spectacular late Tuesday into early Wednesday (Aug. 12 to 13), experts say.

If bad weather spoils your view, you can see the Perseids live online courtesy of the Slooh Community Observatory and NASA. The first of the two free webcasts of the meteor shower begins at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) on Slooh’s website, http://www.slooh.com.

 


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