Keep your eyes skyward: The annual Perseid meteor shower has begun and will continue in intensity for the next few weeks.
As Earth passes through the path of Comet Swift-Tuttle’s debris, this summer meteor shower is known to produce 50 to 100 meteors per hour under clear skies. NASA.
Many Perseid meteors have colorful, elongated tails that create streaks of light across the sky. These showers can sometimes produce fireballs: unusually bright meteors that can be seen over a wide area. Coinciding with the mild summer nights, the Perseids have become a favorite star in the Northern Hemisphere.
The Perseids began this year on July 14 and will last until September 1, peaking on the night of August 12 until the early hours of August 13. The meteor shower will increase gradually between now and that dark night, after which they will fall suddenly, according to the astronomy website. EarthSky.
As a bonus, this year’s Perseids peak will fall just a few days before the new moon on August 16. New moons make the best conditions for night sky observation because they allow for the darkest skies possible; Because even the faintest meteors are not washed away by the moonlight, it gives an extra robust meteor shower experience.
While this meteor shower can be seen before 10 p.m., experts say the Perseids grow more abundant as the night wears on, and are best seen in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours — so plan to stay up late or set an alarm for peak viewing.
No special equipment like binoculars or telescopes are required to view the meteor shower, but the experience is best when viewed under the darkest skies possible, away from bright urban environments. Rural areas, especially in Michigan’s northern Lower and Upper Peninsula, offer great views, along with our dark-sky parks and preserves.
A few meteor shower tips: Dress for the weather and choose a viewing spot under a large sky, such as a lakeshore or a designated viewing area at a dark-sky park. Bring a blanket or a reclining camp chair that will allow you to lean back and get as high into the sky as possible. Perhaps most importantly, be patient: it takes about 30 minutes for our eyes to adjust to the dark.
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