Perseid Meteor Shower – This Weekend (August 12, 2017)

By Calvin J.

Clocking in at up to 100 meteors an hour, the Perseids meteor shower is an event you definitely don’t want to miss.

Perseid_meteor_and_Milky_Way_in_2009
A gorgeous snapshot of the Perseid meteor shower back in 2009. (Image Credit: Brocken Inaglory)

Referred to by some Catholics as the “Tears of Saint Lawrence“, the Perseids meteor shower runs annually from July 23rd to August 20th of each year. It is caused by a field of ice and rocky debris left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet.  It swung by our inner solar system back in 1992 and won’t be making another appearance until 2126 – every 133 years.  But as our planet moves through the stream of debris its left behind, its meteors collide with the earth’s atmosphere. When they burn up, they super-heat the air around them until it glows – leaving behind a brilliant display of lights in our night sky.

Unfortunately, our own moon will be working against us this weekend. At about 3/4s full, the moon will remain a prominent source of light in the sky, likely drowning out many of the smaller and fainter meteors.

However, this year, the earth is moving through a rather dense field of icy debris, meaning we can expect a large number of bright substantially sized fireballs to shine through, particularly during the “peak” of the shower, on the nights of August 11th and 12th.

So keep your lights out this weekend, bring out a lawn chair or a blanket, and get comfortable. You won’t want to miss this once-a-year cosmic marvel.

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