Perseid’s meteor shower is one of the highlights for most meteor hunters and sky watchers each year, as it shows an increasing number of visible, shooting rocks for several weeks during the summer. The annual shower starts tonight – read on to find out how you can best see the space phenomenon.
With a small, rocky or metallic body, meteoroids are significantly smaller than asteroids and range in size from small grains to one meter wide objects.
However, the Perseid meteor shower is known to be both colorful and to show bright traces of light, and it is seen as particularly special, counting as high as 100 stones per hour, although you can usually see around 50.
What is Perseid’s meteor shower?
The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for more than 2,000 years and occurs when the earth passes through the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle.
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When comets orbit closer to the sun, they heat up and cause parts to break off.
If debris (meteors) falls into Earth’s orbit around the sun, it can infiltrate our atmosphere at speeds of around seven to 45 miles per second, said the Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG).
However, the exact speed at which the meteor enters the atmosphere will depend on the combined speed of the Earth and the debris itself.
RMG said: “The average speed of a Perseid meteor is 36 miles per second, and the air in front of the meteor is squeezed and heated to thousands of degrees Celsius.
It continued: “The smaller meteors evaporate and leave a bright trace of light”, while “the larger meteors can explode like fireballs”.
If it is expected to be cloudy and rainy where you are, you may want to travel to a new place where the weather will be clearer, or head out for another day. After all, the shower will continue for the next few weeks.
Another tip is to try to reduce the amount of light pollution in your field of vision.
Go to the countryside, the park or other large areas to see with better views. The Royal Museums Greenwich even suggests doing something as simple as turning your back on streetlights to see if you are unable to travel.
RMG said: “Give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so you can catch more of the weaker meteors – this means you should not look at your phone!
“Meteors can appear in all parts of the sky, so the more skies you can see, the better.”
Try to find an area away from trees and buildings and a much clearer view of the horizon – but do not worry about bringing binoculars and telescopes. These will limit the amount of sky you can see.
Go out when the sky is at its darkest and specifically for meteor showers, any time between midnight and early morning is the best time to do so.
But with Perseid, these can also be visible early in the evening, just when the sun goes down due to its radiance over the horizon.