Astronomy blog

2018 Perseids Meteor Shower viewing guide

By Dave Samuhel, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
8/10/2018, 7:17:30 PM

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The best meteor shower of the year is nearly here! The shower peaks this weekend with upwards of 100-meteors-per hour expected!

Perseids have been visible since July. But, meteor rates will increase dramatically this weekend. The absolute peak of the shower will be Sunday night into Monday morning. Saturday night should produce a decent number of shooting stars.

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This will be an excellent year for the Perseids, as there will be no moonlight to wash out any meteors! The new moon is Saturday, so it's not a factor this year. All we need to worry about is sky conditions.

The Perseids are particularly dazzling. Most of the meteors are so fast that they leave a trail behind as they pass. This is due to meteors vaporizing after they hit the atmosphere. The meteors will be moving at 40-miles-per second!

The strongest activity from this meteor shower is expected from around 20:00 UTC (4 P.M. EDT) Sunday through 08:00 UTC (4 A.M. EDT) Monday. This means, Sunday night for most of the globe.

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Comet Swift-Tuttle Sparks Perseids The source of the meteors is debris left by a passage of a comet. Every year, the Earth travels through the debris field of the comet named Swift-Tuttle.

The comet orbits the sun every 133 years. It has a very unusual orbit. It comes into the inner solar system, only to reach past the orbit of Pluto. It passed closest to the sun back in 1992. There has been some concern that the comet will pass close enough to pose a threat to Earth.

The nucleus is 16 miles across, more than double the size of the object that may have been responsible for extinction of the dinosaurs. It is the largest object to approach so close to Earth on a regular basis.

In a 1997 paper written by Gerrit L. Verschuur, comet Swift-Tuttle was described as "the single most dangerous object known to humanity." The good news is that it will not pass near Earth until 2126.

Worldwide viewing conditions The Perseids is mostly an exclusive meteor shower to the Northern Hemisphere, so we will not include Southern Hemisphere viewing here.

Europe

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Middle East

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Asia

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The best things in life are free, and not too many things are free anymore; however, looking at the night sky is still one of those things. Thanks for reading! Just look up; you never know what you will see.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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