There’s Going to Be an Outburst!
Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower at Its Peak Tonight
The last time we had an outburst, that is a meteor shower with more meteors than usual, was in 2009. This year’s Perseid meteor shower is predicted to be just as spectacular starting tonight!
Plan to stay up late tonight or set your alarm clock for the wee morning hours to see this cosmic display of “shooting stars” light up the night sky. Known for it’s fast and bright meteors, tonight’s annual Perseid meteor shower is anticipated to be one of the best meteor viewing opportunities this year.
For stargazers experiencing cloudy or light-polluted skies, a live broadcast of the Perseid meteor shower will be available via Ustream overnight tonight and tomorrow, beginning at 10 p.m. EDT.
“Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double
normal rates on the night of Aug. 11-12,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s
Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Alabama. “Under perfect
conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour.”
Every Perseid meteor is a tiny piece of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years. When Earth crosses paths with Swift-Tuttle’s debris, specks of comet-stuff hit Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate in flashes of light. These meteors are called Perseids because they seem to fly out of the constellation Perseus.
Most years, Earth might graze the edge of Swift-Tuttle’s debris stream, where there’s less activity. Occasionally, though, Jupiter’s gravity tugs the huge network of dust trails closer, and Earth plows through closer to the middle, where there’s more material.
This is predicted be one of those years!
Learn more about the Perseids!
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