BOSTON (CBS) – The Perseids, one of the best meteor showers of the year, arrives Wednesday night.
The Perseids are nothing more than the trail of dust left by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Every 133 years the comet makes its closest pass by Earth, leaving a refreshed trail of dust and debris in its wake. The last time it was in our neck of the universe was 1992. It will return in 2125.
Each August, Earth passes through the trail of debris, plowing through the tiny grains of sand, heating them and turning them into white-hot meteoroids. At their peak and under ideal conditions, the Perseids have been known to produce hundreds of “shooting stars” each hour.
So, could this be one of THOSE years? Perhaps!
The moon will be ideal, having just passed the new phase and setting just before the show begins (around 10 p.m.).
If you can find yourself a vantage point with a view of the entire sky, down to the horizon and away from any light pollution, you could see 50-to-100 meteors per hour Wednesday night! The radiant point (from which the meteors come from) rises late at night. So, if you head out before midnight, many of the meteors will likely be low to the horizon.
The best viewing time will be between midnight and 4 a.m. when the Perseid radiant point rises high in the northeastern sky.
If you have an unlimited view, lie back in a comfy chair and look up and northeastward (although you can really look almost any direction and likely see some meteors). And, while the show will peak Wednesday night, there are always some stragglers in the days leading up to and following the peak, so don’t be surprised if you catch a few before or after Wednesday night this week.
Lastly, the weather should cooperate for the most part. Oppressive heat and humidity will be moving in Wednesday, with just a few isolated PM thunderstorms. Any convection should clear by night time and skies should be mainly clear. There may be a bit of a haze given the high dewpoints and perhaps some spotty low clouds and fog at some coastal areas.
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