The annual Perseid meteor shower is currently underway and will peak on the night of August 12 into the morning of the 13th. The Perseids is the result of earth ploughing through the debris field of Comet Swift-Tuttle when this 26-kilometre wide mountain of rock and ice last rounded the sun in 1992. At its peak, the shower can produce up to 100 meteors per hour. Sand size particle vapourize as they strike the earth’s upper atmosphere at 58 kilometres per second. The Perseids have been known to produce bright fireballs as largest gravel size pieces end in a glaze of glory.
This is a wonderful summertime shower seen from dark skies such as campsites and cottages. However, this year’s peak occurs with a 94% lit moon which will be present all night long. The lunar glow in the sky will reduce the numbers of faint meteors but you could still see brighter ones and the occasional fireball. Located to the right of the moon is the planet Saturn.
Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky