This is the weekend of the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower and most meteor forecasts predict the annual "shooting star" display will be at its best during the overnight hours of late Saturday (Aug. 11) into the early Sunday.
The Perseid meteor shower occurs each year in late July and early August when the Earth passes through the dusty remains of the comet Swift-Tuttle. In the night sky, the meteor shower appears to radiate out of the constellation Perseus, hence, its name: Perseid meteor shower.
French astronomer, Jérémie Vaubaillon of the The Institut de Mecanique Celeste et de Calcul des Ephemerides (IMCCE) has generated a plot of Earth’s passage through this year’s Perseid meteor swarm. Itshows that our planet will be passing through the greatest concentration of dusty material between approximately 0400 hours and 1300 hours UT on Aug.
Seeing the Perseids
Over the years I’ve grown accustomed to receiving e-mails from SPACE.com readers who said that they were disappointed with how the Perseid meteor shower performedfor them. After all, didn’t most online websites and the mainstream media promise that at their peak the Perseids would produce up to 100 meteors per hour? In most cases, people tend to see far fewer numbers. So why is that?
The number of meteors that you will see will depend on two factors: the time of night observed and sky conditions. An experienced observer in a perfectly clear and dark sky (one in which you can see the faintest stars visible to the unaided eye) with the radiant directly overhead, might theoretically see as many as 100 Perseids per hour. This oft-advertised number is called the shower’s Zenithal Hourly Rate or ZHR.
Such ideal conditions, however, rarely