Look to the skies, stargazers!
The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, a sublime spectacle of meteors showering through a starlit sky. The Perseid meteor shower, which has been active for some weeks now, is set to peak on the night of Friday, August 12, and the morning of Saturday, August 13.
Viewable from anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, the Perseid meteor shower is produced upon Earth’s annual passage through a belt of debris left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet. It is known by astronomers and zealous stargazers as one of the best celestial shows of the year with more than 60 bright meteors visible per hour during the shower’s peak.
The shower is often best before dawn, though with a supermoon expected on August 12th, the Perseid meteor shower could be just as effectively observed on early mornings before or after its peak this week.
The #PerseidMeteorShower peaks this week, but the upcoming #supermoon will be a significant factor if you’re planning for a night of stargazing: https://t.co/TksjfQTlQn
— AccuWeather Astronomy (@AccuAstronomy) August 8, 2022
Known as the Corn Moon and the Grain Moon due to the abundance of crops at the start of the harvesting season in the Northern Hemisphere, this month’s supermoon is the last of three supermoons to grace the skies in 2022.
The more light cast from the moon, unfortunately, obscures the sky’s clarity and our ability to view meteor showers. Luckily with the frequency of meteors and the often mild, cloud-free August nights, we should, however, still be able to see the shower in the skies above all week.
According to Almanac.com, “look for the meteors a few hours after midnight when the Moon is lower in the sky. Or, look in the dark hours before dawn when the Moon is setting. The meteor count is always highest in the pre-dawn hours when the skies are at their very darkest.” You can find your local moonrise time here.
Though rates of Perseids will be highest from the early morning hours of August 11 until August 13, the meteor shower will go on throughout August for at least another two weeks after its peak.
The first record of this phenomenon can be traced back to 36 AD. Since then, numerous references to the showers have been recorded throughout the millennia. The showers get their name from the Perseus constellation of their origin.
While you might have picture-perfect 20/20 vision, you’d do yourself one better by heading out to anywhere that is less affected by light pollution and coming equipped with binoculars to get a closer look at the interstellar spectacle.
Check out this light pollution map to find a dark sky near you!