TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) – A normally popular meteor shower approaches its peak this weekend.
On a perfect night with little light, the Perseid meteor shower is known to produce up to 100 meteors per hour. Some years even see up to 200 meteors per hour with this shower.
This year is much different, however. On the night of the peak of the shower, Aug. 12, the moon will be almost full. The moon’s brightness will likely wash out more than half of the meteors that fall into the atmosphere.
The show will still be worth checking out as it will be the second-best meteor shower of the year. Ten to 20 meteors per hour are expected this year. Perseid meteors are typically brighter fireballs which will make it even more worth the show.
Spend some time out in the dark night sky. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness and bring your patience. According to earthsky.org, the meteors will come in bursts and the number of meteors you see will vary hourly. In between the bursts, there may be longer lulls.
The best show will occur before dawn, before any sunlight starts peaking over the horizon, and when the moon is setting. During this in-between time, you’ll experience the most darkness and it will allow fainter meteors to be seen as well.
The mornings with the longest amount of total darkness (no moon or sunlight) will be on the mornings leading up to the peak. The moon will set an hour later each morning. Starting Saturday morning, there will be about three hours of total darkness, Sunday morning will have two and Monday will only have one.
It is still possible to see shooting stars before the moon sets, but there is a greater chance of seeing more of the faint meteors during darkness.
These particular meteors come from the trail of debris left behind Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every year in late July and August, earth’s orbit takes us through the trail. The actual comet’s orbit is much larger than earth’s and only passes near earth every 133 years, according to earthsky.org. The next time Swift-Tuttle will pass just inside earth’s orbit is not until July 2126.