Perseid meteor shower expected to peak this weekend

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns

Whilst it officially started on 17 July, running through until 27 August, the Met Office has confirmed that the peak dates to see the shower are 12-13 August, with up to 100 meteors visible per hour.

According to NASA, the Perseid meteors travel at 132,000 miles per hour, 500 times faster than the fastest vehicle in the world. These meteors are actually specks of rock that have broken off Comet Swift-Tuttle and continued to orbit the Sun until they vaporize in Earth's atmosphere.

With all the talk about the Great American Eclipse, you may have forgotten to put this on your calendar: The Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak this weekend. The stones through which Earth passes throw at this moment belonged to a comet named Swift-Tuttle. The moon will rise just before midnight local time.

Remember, any competing source of light - city lights, street lamps, vehicle headlights, cellphone screens, the Moon, etc - will prevent our eyes from completely adjusting to the darkness, and thus prevent us from seeing all the meteors that will be flashing overhead. But we'll see some meteors nonetheless. If our planet happens to pass through an unusually dense clump of meteoroids - comet rubble - we'll see an elevated number of meteors. See above for the current cloud forecast for Friday night through Sunday morning. The shooting stars will appear to come from the direction of the Perseus constellation in the north-eastern part of the sky. The best thing to do is to go outside on the evenings before or after the peak on August 12, give your eyes about 45 minutes to adjust to the darkness, lie down, and look straight up into the sky. Also, keep bright sources of light (the Moon included) out of your direct field of view.

The best way to experience the celestial show is to get away from light pollution - and Northern Utah now has two dark sky parks for people to visit. "The darker location you can get to, the better, but regardless, the moon is going to block out some of the fainter ones".

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