This year’s Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak late on Thursday Aug 11 or in the early morning on Friday Aug 12. Under good dark-sky conditions, you can expect to see 40 to 80 meteors per hours. Be patient, the Perseids do not create a blizzard of streaksthrough the sky: 60 meteors an hour means an average of just one per minute, and that includes many faint ones. From locations in the Lower Mainland with moderate light pollution, you are more likely to see one meteor every two or three minutes.
There is often a good show of meteors several days after the peak so the Perseid Meteor Shower Watch event on Saturday at Aldergrove Region Park is great chance to the shower.
Ten Perseid Meteor Facts:
- The Perseid Meteor shower has been observed for over 1000 years. In 33 AD, a Chinese skywatcher reported that “more than 100 meteors flew thither in the morning” but when the shower first occurred is unknown.
- The Perseid meteors are caused by the Earth passing through the debris trail left by Comet Swift-Tuttle which orbits the sun once every 133 years.
- The meteors are the pieces of debris, usually no bigger than a grain of sand, that enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
- More meteors are expected this year because the Earth will be moving through a thicker clump of debris from Swift-Tuttle, created partly from the influence of Jupiter’s gravity.
- The Perseid meteors strike the atmosphere at a high velocity, about 60 kilometers per second, which tends to produce bright meteors and an unusual number of super-bright meteors, called fireballs.
- The Perseid meteors appear to come from the same place: the constellation Perseus, also called the “radiant.” Perseus is found in the northeastern part of the sky.
- Light from the moon will interfere somewhat this year but the moon sets at 12:53 AM on August 12.
- Observers have photographed Perseids striking the moon.
- People have claimed to hear sounds associated with meteor: hissing, sizzling, or pops. Scientists have recently proposed that that very frequency radio waves created by meteors could vibrate metal objects on the ground.
- An astronaut on the International Space Station, Ron Garan, watched the Perseid meteors from space by looking down at the Earth.