Keep your eyes open this week to witness a Perseid meteor shower!
The peak of shooting stars peppering the sky will be Wednesday night into Thursday morning. Seeing one shooting star is spectacular enough, but the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Royal Astronomical Society in the U.K report that between 90-100 shooting stars will be visible per hour!
For the best viewing, head outside at 4am eastern time. Due to the small size and dimness of the moon, the perseids will be very observable. The dark moon will set at 6:44pm on Wednesday, clearing up the sky for your viewing pleasure! But the best place to see the shower will be in a rural setting away from the brightness of the city.
So where in the sky should you be looking? NASA tells us:
“Look towards the familiar constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus in the northeast. They rise soon after sunset, but you’ll want to wait til they are higher in the sky to see the most meteors.”
If you are looking to capture the perseids on camera you can look to the American Meteor Society, who have published a guide which can help you set up your DSLR to take photos.
Those beautiful bright streaks shooting across our sky are actually burning debris! Sky and Telescope magazine tell us that comets leave trails of dirt behind them. When Earth passes through the debris floating in space our atmosphere causes the debris to burn up leaving a bright tail in the sky.
For those who aren’t able to see the shower first hand, you can watch a live Ustream broadcast which starts at 10pm on Wednesday. It will be hosted by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw, three representatives of NASA’s Micrometeoroid Office, will be providing commentary and will be teaming up for a question and answer session.
You can also keep up with the shower on social media – #meteorshower.