Don’t be surprised if you see a few meteors on a clear night the next few weeks because next weekend marks the annual Perseid meteor shower in what should be the best event of the year, weather permitting.
This year the Perseids will be easier to view, thanks to the New Moon phase. The meteor shower peaks between 4 p.m. on Aug. 12 through 4 a.m. on Aug. 13, according to NASA.
The best time to observe the meteor shower is a few hours after twilight until dawn. The meteors will seem to emanate from the northeastern sky near the constellation Perseus.
You can look anywhere in the sky for meteors. Astronomers advise fixing your gaze directly overhead so that your eyes adjust to the dark sky, which can take 10 to 20 minutes.
Rather than a short peak, the Perseid meteor shower lingers because Earth takes a more than three weeks to move through the dust of Comet Swift-Tuttle. The streaking particles were formerly part of the comet or an asteroid.
At the shower’s peak, 60-70 meteors can be seen per hour under ideal conditions, as streams of meteoroids collide with Earth’s atmosphere, creating streaks of light as the particles burn up.
I will update you on the best viewing conditions next weekend, which require a mostly clear sky. Early indications suggest a warm, sticky pattern next weekend, with some daytime cloudiness and haze, but a partly clear nighttime sky in many areas.