22 Aug 2014
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Perseid Meteor Shower Dazzles Skies

Viewers should be able to observe 100 "shooting stars" hourly during Saturday-Sunday's Perseid Meteor Shower. You can also watch live with NASA, which calls it "the best meteor shower of the year."

Don't forget to look up tonight.

No telescopes are required for the Perseid meteor shower taking place primarily Saturday night Aug. 11 through Sunday morning Aug. 12, and according to NASA, stargazers could see upward of 100 meteorites flash before them per hour.

According to Astronomy.com, the Perseid Meteor shower has some added bonuses this year: it will occur on a night when the moon is in its waning crescent phase, which means the moonlight will interfere only slightly with your view of the meteors, and it's on a Saturday night, which means people can stay up late and sleep in the next day.

You don't even need a telescope. Just spread out a blanket, maybe a late-night picnic, lay back and enjoy!

Michael Frey, an astronomy lecturer at Cal State Uinversity, Long Beach, recommends going to a local park, beach or even your own backyard, as long as it’s reasonably dark and you have a view close to the horizon. The show will start after midnight, he said.

“Look toward the east as Perseid is rising to see what is called the radiant,” Frey said, referring to the point of the sky where showers orginate. “Once Perseid hits, you’ll see a few per minute.”

For those who are willing to travel, the local desert provides ideal viewing conditions as well as Mt. Pinos in Frazier Park, where Frey said hundreds gather, often with telescopes and cameras. Exercising common courtesy, such as lowering headlights when entering or leaving and keeping noise to a minimum, will ensure everyone has a good time.

He also offered this advice: “Bring something like a blanket or lawn chairs, nice drinks, a little bit of food and some good friends.”  

Perseid Meteor Trivia:

 

  • Mankind has looked up at the Perseids for nearly 2,000 years
  • The Perseids are remnants of the Swift-Tuttle comet, which orbits the sun every 133 years.
  • These bits of comet "ice and dust" are more than 1,000 years old
  • These meteors travel 37 miles per second
  • The Perseids can be seen all over the sky, but the best viewing opportunities will be across the northern hemisphere.
  • Those with sharp eyes will see that the meteors radiate from the direction of the constellation Perseus, which forms an inverted "Y" shape and is in the northeast.
  • Some of the meteorites are as small as a grain of sand, but they have the kinetic energy of a nuclear bomb!
  • If you see a very slow, bright object sailing across the sky, it's either a satellite or a Space Station.   

Where and how to view:

  • The best time to view will be 2 a.m. on Aug. 12.
  • The weather, so far, is predicted to be clear, so you should have a good view.
  • Avoid city lights. The further you get from town, the better your view will be.
  • Join the NASA's Live Video/Audio Feed by clicking here. NASA will live stream the meteor shower as seen from atop the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Hunstville AL. Also experts will be online available to answer questions between 8 p.m. PDT and midnight.

If you snap a great photo of the shower, upload it to our photo gallery!

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