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The 2017 Perseid meteor shower will continue tonight. Meteor rates should be near 30 to 40 per hour!
Usually, the best viewing is after midnight. But, this year, the moon will be in the sky near and after midnight. So, the evening viewing will be just as good as overnight.
This shower is routinely one of the best and most popular meteor showers of the year. It produces a lot of meteors every single year! Activity will drop off a bit this year compared to 2016. This is mainly due to the bright moon washing out dimmer meteors.
Normally the best time to view the Perseid meteor shower is after midnight when meteor rates are the highest. However, this year, I am recommending people start looking right after it gets dark. The moon rises 11 p.m. Saturday night.
Now, don't give up on viewing after midnight. You will still be able to see a lot of meteors, but the faint meteors will be washed out by moonlight.
This shower is well known for very bright and long-lasting meteors that will be visible despite moonlight. Just do not look at the moon, try to face a part of the sky away from the moon. However, still get as much sky as possible in your view as the meteors will streak in all corners of the sky.
As with any meteor shower. You need patience. Plan on making an evening out of it. Stay outside for at least one hour, preferable two at the minimum. Do not look at any light source, like a phone or bright fire (though a nice campfire will not destroy your night vision like a phone or tablet screen will).
Most of the "poor and fair" areas will have clearing skies through the night. Don't give up hope if you are in the "poor" area. I was in the "poor" area last year and happened to have two hours of mostly clear skies, and I witnessed nearly 80 meteors over the course of two hours.
Latest U.S. Satellite Imagery
Keep checking back here for the latest satellite imagery
Remainder of North America viewing
This shower is visible across the Northern Hemisphere. Here are more sky cover outlooks.
Conditions across the rest of Europe tonight.
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 has been described as "the single most dangerous object known to humanity." The good news is that it will not pass near Earth until 2126.
Thanks for reading. Just look up; you never know what you will see!
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The moon brightens in advance of next week's full moon. The Mars opposition happens on the same day as a lunar eclipse and the peak of a few different meteor showers!
A crystal clear air mass will bring splendid conditions for stargazers across the East Coast of the U.S. Look for the thin crescent moon near Venus this evening, then the Milky Way later at night.