How to Watch This Weekend's Perseid Meteor Shower
This weekend is the peak time of the Perseid meteor shower and Georgia Tech astronomy expert Jim Sowell has some recommendations of how you can make the most of the celestial show.
First, some background.
Around late July and early August each year, the Swift-Tuttle comet puts on a dazzling show. Tiny bits of debris the size of peas hit Earth’s atmosphere at a staggering 132,000 miles per hour. They reach super-hot temperatures as the streak across the sky. There is a good chance you may have already seen a few streaks across the sky.
Sowell, the director of Georgia Tech’s observatory, says the average will be one every three to five minutes.
During the peak hours this Sunday night and into the early morning of August 13th, you may be able to see up to 60 meteors an hour.
Nature is helping out a bit this weekend. Because we’re starting a new phase, the moon will not be out to brighten the skies. That means the night will be extra dark. Perfect conditions for meteor spotting.
If you’re in Atlanta or near a city, you may need to relocate for optimal viewing. Reducing the number of lights and trees around you will make the meteor shower more visible.
“Find an open field and lie back,” Sowell says.
No Telescope? No problem. Sowell says it won’t be necessary to see the blazes across the night sky.
But there’s one thing you can’t control: the weather. Clouds and rain could cause a hiccup if you're planning on stargazing. Thankfully, the forecast around the Atlanta metro area is looking pretty clear.
The best time for viewing might mean you’ll have to adjust your schedule a bit.
“3:00 a.m. to twilight,” Sowell says.
He recommends bug spray and light blanket or a cot for full enjoyment.