August 10, 2012 1:26 pm

This Weekend’s Reason to Keep Looking Up: the Perseid Meteor Shower

The stellar hits just keep coming! The Super Moon, the transit of Venus across the Sun, and of course, the Mars Curiosity Rover landing. And this weekend is the annual August return of my favorite celestial fireworks display: the Perseid Meteor Shower.

The Perseid Meteor Shower seen from the International Space Station

The Perseid Meteor Shower, as seen from the International Space Station on August 13, 2011
Credit: Ron Garan, ISS Expedition 28 Crew, NASA

The Perseids are basically dust and debris from the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. But when they hit Earth’s atmosphere, they light up the sky as they burn up. At their peak, there can be as many as 100 meteors per hour.

Timing of the Perseid Meteor Shower

According to the Hayden Planetarium, the Perseids peak from late on the evening of August 12 until morning. says the peak is “just after the night of the 11th and 12th August through to the 13th and 14th August.”

The weather reports for the Northeast are hopeful. Rain Saturday during the day, but only partly cloudy at night, with Sunday and Monday looking clear.

Guides to the Perseids

There’s a great guide to the Perseids on, complete with advice on where to look and the most comfortable way to watch. And of course, every month the Hayden Planetarium blog features its excellent “Sky Reporter” with a heads-up on that month’s astronomy highlights, including, for August, how and where to view the Perseids.

Advancing to the Next Level: The Science of Video Games Part 2

Oh, and one more event you may want to catch this weekend: astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson concludes his interviews with Will Wright, creator of The Sims and Spore, and Jeffrey Ryan, author of “Super Mario – How Nintendo Conquered America” in Advancing to the Next Level: The Science of Video Games Part 2, along with comic co-host Eugene Mirman. The podcast will be posted on StarTalk Radio and on iTunes this Sunday, August 12, after 7:00 PM. (It should hit the Zune feed and the other channels around the same time, but no promises!)

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons

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