How to catch the Perseid Meteor Shower when it peaks Aug. 11

Posted at 9:47 AM, Aug 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-11 09:48:27-04

CINCINNATI -- NASA scientists are calling Thursday night's annual Perseid meteor shower one of the best shows in years! In fact, they have even called it a “meteor outburst,” saying that under the perfect conditions, up to 200 meteors per hour are possible. That’s twice as many meteors as a normal meteor shower!

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 clouds in our forecast, but the sky should remain partly cloudy, which will allow for viewing opportunities. 

Third, look up, and look toward the northern sky. Timing for the meteor outburst will be between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. The darker the sky, the better the chance to see meteors. This means the hours between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m. are peak meteor viewing times.

Fun facts about the Perseid meteor shower:

  • It is called the Perseid meteor shower because the meteors appear to originate from the Perseus constellation.
  • The meteors come from the comet “Swift-Tuttle.”
  • “Swift-Tuttle” orbits the sun every 133 years, and each pass through the inner solar system leaves comet debris for the Earth to pass through.
  • The meteors are travelling 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.

Keep your fingers crossed that the clouds in the forecast stay to a minimum. If they do, according to NASA scientists, this could be quite the show for us Thursday night into Friday morning. Enjoy!