It’s that time of the year again when the Perseid meteor shower is set to put on the most spectacular show on the night sky. According to experts, the Perseid meteor shower will appear at double the usual rates, which will peak on Aug. 11 to 12 starting at 10 PM.
Bill Cooke, a meteor expert at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the leader of the space agency’s Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, says that we could see about 150 meteors and possibly up to 200 meteors per hour instead of the usual 80 Perseids per hour. The last time such outburst occurred was in 2009.
The Perseid meteor shower is the debris left by the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which is the largest object known to repeatedly pass by Earth at 26 kilometers across. The comet debris heat up as they enter the atmosphere and travel as fast as 59 kilometers per second. It is called Perseid because the meteors seem to originate from the constellation Perseus.
The last time the comet passed close to our planet was in 1992 but this won’t happen again soon. The next time we could catch it will be in the year 2126.
Earth will pass through the path of the comet from July 17 to Aug. 24. On Aug. 12, experts say that the planet will pass on the dustiest and densest area of the debris.
The event is best seen in the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere and down to the mid-southern latitudes. Although the meteor shower will start at 10 PM, most meteors can be seen after midnight. Thus, patience is a must.
Still, catching them earlier this August is preferable since the full moon is set on Aug. 18 and its bright moonlight will interfere with the meteor shower. Experts suggest waiting for at least an hour because these meteors come in spurts and are scattered.