ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – The Perseid meteor shower is already underway and is about a week away from its peak in mid-August.
Considered the best meteor shower of the year, you can see up to 50 meteors per hour according to NASA, and sometimes even more if the conditions are right. Fast and bright meteors often leave long waves of light behind as they creep into the atmosphere, making them easy to observe even for the casual astronomer.
The Perseids get their name from the constellation Perseus because they appear to radiate from this place in the sky, but the constellation is not the source. When comets come around the sun, they leave a dust trail behind. This time, every year the Earth passes through debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which burns in our atmosphere.
“Comets are those cosmic carriers of the solar system. They leave behind small pieces of dust and rocks and debris, “said Will Snyder, manager of the James C. McDonnell Planetarium at the St. Louis Science Center. “As the Earth passes through the same place in space, these small particles overheat in the atmosphere and can create those shiny streaks of light that we see from above.”
In the Northern Hemisphere, Perseids are best seen during pre-blast hours, although at times it is possible to see them as early as 10 p.m.
“If you can lie back, give yourself a flat, clear view of the sky and, of course, stay away from any lights if you can. The moon is our natural enemy, but any lights from buildings, on your porch or property, can always ruin the show, ”Snyder said.
The peak of the Perseids is expected to reach a peak on Tuesday in the dying hours of Wednesday. Also, you can still just draw Comet NEOWISE in the southwest sky after sunset, but it fades quickly. The planets Jupiter and Saturn are bright in the southeastern sky. In the morning, Mars and Venus continue to do a show before sunrise.
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