August 4, 2015 8:28 pm

A Moonless Night for Next Week’s Perseids!

Photo of a Perseid meteor, Courtesy of Sky and Telescope

A bright Perseid meteor streaks down the sky. Most meteors are white, but this one began red and flared to brilliant blue-white during its 1-second-long blaze of glory. Image and caption courtesy of Sky and Telescope:

The Perseids are back next week, and it’s looking like this year they might live up to their potential.

You may recall that the Moon made seeing last year’s Perseids problematic. But this year’s peak is scheduled to occur on a moonless night: August 12-13 – and you should be able to see it wherever you live, weather permitting.

According to EarthSky, who always produces one of our favorite Perseid viewing guides, “No matter where you live worldwide, the 2015 Perseid meteor shower will probably be fine on the mornings of August 11, 12, 13 and 14, with the nod going to August 13.”

According to another of our favorite viewing guides, on Sky and Telescope, “the shower’s exact peak is predicted to run for several hours centered on 4 a.m. August 13th Eastern Daylight Time (1 a.m. PDT; 8h Universal Time). This coincides perfectly with the best meteor-watching hours — from late evening to the first light of dawn — in the time zones of North America.”

Both sites have detailed sky maps and great viewing instructions to help ensure you can see the most fireballs.

EarthSky also has a very detailed description of the source of the Perseids. Basically, the Perseids are dust and debris from the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. When they hit Earth’s atmosphere, they light up the sky as they burn up. After midnight, you could expect to see 50 meteors or more every hour!

Hopefully, you’ll have clear skies to go with your moonless night wherever you are. Here around NYC, they’re predicting cloudy skies and a 50% chance of rain – so I’m hoping for the other 50%!

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons

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