Perseid Meteor Shower To Peak Aug. 12

Aug 07, 2008
Shooting stars in the Perseid meteor shower. Photo courtesy of NASA.

The annual Perseid meteor shower will be visible in the night sky throughout Colorado and will peak during the early morning hours of Aug. 12, according to an astronomy expert at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Coloradans can expect a "pretty good" meteor show this year because the moon is not full and it will set shortly after midnight Aug. 10-13, leaving a dark sky during the peak nights for meteor viewing, according to Doug Duncan, director of CU-Boulder's Fiske Planetarium.

"Having the moon set creates a darker sky, which makes a big difference in how many meteors you see," said Duncan.

People can expect to see 50 or more meteors, or shooting stars, per hour from dark mountain or plains locations, while in cities and suburbs viewers can expect to see a few meteors per hour, according to Duncan.

Meteor showers occur when the Earth crosses the path of a comet orbiting the sun, in this case Comet Swift-Tuttle. When the comet gets close to the sun parts of the comet melt and break off, creating millions of chunks of ice and dust that make up its tail. These chunks, many as small as a grain of rice, burn up in the Earth's atmosphere making streaks of light called shooting stars.

"Meteorites are fascinating because they give us a sample of space further out than astronauts have been able to go," said Duncan. "Every meteorite ever studied dates back to the very beginning of the solar system, 4.5 billion years ago."

The Perseid meteor shower is named for the Perseus constellation from which the meteors appear to radiate.

Provided by University of Colorado

Explore further: Why don't we search for different life?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why meteors light up the night sky

Feb 09, 2015

Meteors have been seen since people first looked at the night sky. They are comprised of small pieces of debris, typically no larger than a grain of dust or sand, which continually crash into the Earth's ...

Cosmic puzzle settled: Comets give us shooting stars

Jan 26, 2015

Suspicions that shooting stars come from comet dust, transformed into fiery streaks as they hit Earth's atmosphere, have been bolstered by Europe's Rosetta space mission, scientists reported Monday.

Rosetta's comet surrounded by dusty cloud

Jan 13, 2015

Anyone who's ever read a Charlie Brown comic strip knows "Pig-Pen", the lovable boy who walks around in a constant cloud of his own dirt and dust. Every time he sighs, dust rises in a little cloud around ...

The top 101 astronomical events to watch for in 2015

Dec 24, 2014

Now in its seventh year of compilation and the second year running on Universe Today, we're proud to feature our list of astronomical happenings for the coming year. Print it, bookmark it, hang it on your ...

Potentially hazardous asteroid surprises astronomers

Dec 15, 2014

"Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour," could be still an actual description of our ability to predict asteroid threats to Earth. The sentence from the Bible (Matthew 25:13) sounds like a ...

Recommended for you

Why don't we search for different life?

9 hours ago

If we really want to find life on other worlds, why do we keep looking for life based on carbon and water? Why don't we look for the stuff that's really different?

OSIRIS catches glimpse of Rosetta's shadow

10 hours ago

Several days after Rosetta's close flyby of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 14 February 2015, images taken on this day by OSIRIS, the scientific imaging system on board, have now been downlinked to Earth. ...

Kamikaze comet loses its head

11 hours ago

Like coins, most comet have both heads and tails. Occasionally, during a close passage of the Sun, a comet's head will be greatly diminished yet still retain a classic cometary outline. Rarely are we left ...

NASA spacecraft nears historic dwarf planet arrival

Mar 02, 2015

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned new images captured on approach to its historic orbit insertion at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will be the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet when it enters ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.