Perseid meteor shower to light up the weekend sky

Consider this weekend's Perseid meteor shower an opening act for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

Astronomers are projecting a slightly higher than normal rate of 150 meteors per hour across Tri-State skies Friday night. But the bright moon and some thunderstorms may wash out some of the finer Perseids.

The viewing rate will be more like 30 to 40 meteors an hour. Peak viewing will be Friday night, early Saturday, Saturday night and early Sunday.

The real cosmic show will be the total solar eclipse -- the first to cross the U.S. coast to coast in 99 years.

NASA's meteor expert, Bill Cooke, says the Perseids "can be the warm-up act."

Last year's Perseids excelled with 200 meteors an hour.

How can you see the meteor outburst?

First, you need to eliminate all light pollution. That means you should try to move away from your city’s lights, away from your house or street lights, and get yourself in as dark of a spot as you can. Rural, country locations are ideal.

Secondly, you’ll need to see if clouds are overhead or if the sky is clear. Unfortunately, we have some light storms Friday evening that may hamper the celestial show for some of our region. But Saturday looks pretty clear!

More facts

  • It is called the Perseid meteor shower because the meteors appear to originate from the Perseus constellation.
  • The meteors are traveling at speeds of up to 132,000 mph when they hit the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • When the meteor hits the Earth’s atmosphere, the collision of the meteor with the molecules in the atmosphere cause the meteor to heat up to temperatures between 3,000 and 10,000 degrees! That heating creates the light we see as the meteor travels across the sky.
  • Most meteors burn up in our sky around 50 miles above the Earth’s surface.
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