The Perseids are a popular meteor shower, but while this happens every August, the spectacular show they’ll put off tonight will be more mesmerizing than normal. This evening’s Perseids meteor shower will have twice as many meteors as normal (peaking at 160-200 meteors per hour instead of 100).
The Perseids are also known for sparking many fireballs in the sky (among the meteoroids) which burn even brighter. The Perseids happens because, Mid-August, the Earth intersects with the trail of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. Madness ensues as debris from the comet smacks into the Earth’s atmosphere, and that collision sparks shooting stars across the sky.
This year will be so intense because the comet’s trail is pulled a little closer to us by Jupiter’s gravity, meaning our planet will pass through the heart of it instead of skirting by as it normally does.
Tips for Meteor Shower Watching:
Get high (geographically speaking) and far away from city lights. The blacker the sky looks, the better, so the moon is your enemy. Things will peak between midnight and dawn.
And be patient: your eyes will need 20 minutes to adjust and notice some streaks and movement. It’s best to lower your expectations: the photos you’ve seen of meteor showers kind of pump up false expectations of what you’ll see, given their magnification, time-lapsing, Photoshopping, etc.
Pop Culture And The Perseids:
According to Wikipedia, John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” is about his experience “watching the Perseid meteor shower during a family camping trip in the mountains near Aspen, Colorado,” hence the line, “I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.”
Caveat: Despite this paper’s weather-based name, we do not have a staff meteorologist; how visible this’ll be here in NL, under cloudy skies, is somewhat unknown.