Coming to a sky near you this weekend

Terry Joseph
August 12, 2017

The Perseid meteor shower coming up on August 12 is being billed as one of the biggest astronomical events in the last 96 years - that is, based on false information circulating around the internet in meme-form. Even though Sunday is past the peak of the meteor shower, you can still see around 40-50 meteors, shooting across the night sky.

Tom Reiland, director of the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh, said the showers are best viewed right after midnight but that humidity could make it harder to see fainter meteors.

To see the meteor shower, you don't need a telescope, binoculars or any other equipment; all you need is your eyes.

Every year as Earth orbits around the sun and through the wake of the Swift-Tuttle Comet, bits of debris from the 17-mile-wide icy space ball enter the Earth's atmosphere at 133,000 miles per hour, reaching temperatures of 3,000 to 10,000 degrees and creating the meteors stargazers see in the sky.

The yearly show got its name because the stars appear to fly out of the constellation Perseus.

NASA says the absolute best time to see the meteor shower will be in the predawn hours on Aug 12 (Saturday).

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Star gazers, rejoice: One of the best celestial shows of the year will light up West Michigan's sky this weekend. The total solar eclipse is just over a week away and in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday (tomorrow) August 12 there will be a meteor shower.

For the peak, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada predicts about 90 meteors an hour, but don't give yourself false hope.

A spokesperson from the Roseland Observatory in Cornwall said: "The Perseid meteor shower is also called the August meteor shower!" At best they can burst and drop up to a few hundred in an hour. "To alleviate this problem one could try to view the display before the moon rises, which would be approximately 23:00 local summer time on the evening of the 11th", the IMO said.

Find a spot away from bright lights and let your eyes get used to the dark - This will take about 15 to 20 minutes.

The later you go out each night, the clearer the skies.

Another hurdle for viewing would be the rain clouds expected overnight Friday into Saturday morning. The earth crosses this river between August 11 and 13 every year, so the meteors appear intensively during that period.

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