Perseid Meteor Shower Tonight Peaks Tonight

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Early Perseid meteor by Ken Christison.


Perseid Meteor Shower is visible in the night sky August 10-12, 2016.

The annual Perseid meteor shower should be very visible in the night sky this week, with the peak expected tonight a bit after midnight into the early morning as well as tomorrow night.

And by a very fortunate coincidence, there will be little or no moon light to make the meteors hard to see.

The best viewing hours should be between 11 p.m. and dawn, when the constellation Perseus is above the horizon. Although the meteors appear to come from Perseus, they actually are part of a debris trail left by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which the Earth encounters every August.

Perseids can appear anywhere in the sky; astronomers recommend looking in whatever direction the sky is darkest for you. The Perseids arise when the Earth runs into pieces of debris floating in the solar system that were left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. The 17-mile-wide ball of ice and debris orbits the sun about once every 133 years and made its last close pass by the sun in 1992.

The comet’s left behind debris then enters Earth’s atmosphere at about 133,000 miles per hour and bursts into bright flames about 60 miles overhead. Most of the meteors are small, about the size of a grain of sand, but some can be as large as a golf ball. You’ll be able to see many of the small bursts, but it’s the handful of large ones that create jaw-dropping fireballs as they blaze across the sky.

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