The Perseid meteor shower is often considered the best meteor shower of the year due to its high frequency of sightings and pleasant late-summer temperatures, according to NASA. Unlike last year’s showers which coincided with the full moon, this year’s full moon will be a waning crescent moon, allowing for fainter meteors to be seen.
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The Perseids are known for their fireballs, NASA said, which are larger explosions of light and color that can last longer than the average meteor streak. The bits of space debris that interact with our atmosphere to form the Perseids come from Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, first discovered by Louis Swift and Horace Tuttle in 1862. It orbits the Sun once every 133 years, last visiting the inner solar system in 1992. Radiant Shower The meteorite—the point in the sky from which the Perseids seem to originate—is located near the constellation Perseus, which gives them their name.
Meteors are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours, although it is sometimes possible to view them as early as 10 p.m., according to NASA. “People in the United States can reasonably expect to see about 40 Perseids per hour just before dawn on peak nights,” Bill Cook, who leads NASA’s Meteorite Environment Office, said in a statement. “That’s about a minute every two minutes, which isn’t bad. However, we’re assuming you’re outside, far from cities and suburbs.”
Brighter suburban skies reduce rates significantly, with 10 or less expected within the hour. “All you need to see the show is clear skies, darkness, and a little patience,” NASA said. “You don’t need to look in any particular direction; meteors can generally be seen all over the sky.”
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