Full moon to dull annual rock star Perseid meteor shower

On the bright side, the moon does sit relatively low in the southern sky in the northern hemisphere this time of year, so much of the sky will still be relatively dark.

By
August 12, 2019 20:29
2 minute read.
Meteor shower Israel

Meteor shower. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The Perseid meteor shower, which usually produces 80 shooting stars an hour, will be dulled by an almost full moon when it peaks on Monday night, according to Forbes.

The shower is one of the most popular meteor showers of the year due to the usually favorable weather conditions in mid-August, but the moon is expected to rain on the annual parade (or, to be more accurate, exactly the opposite). The most favorable conditions for viewing a meteor shower require the darkest skies possible. For this reason, it's always best to be distant from cities and sources of light when viewing one, because light pollution makes it difficult to spot meteors. The full moon, which will shine brightly in the night sky, will have a similar effect, but moving away from a city won't make viewing conditions any better.
On the bright side, the moon does sit relatively low in the southern sky in the northern hemisphere this time of year, so much of the sky will still be relatively dark.


The Perseids have their source in dust and debris from the Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which was last in Earth's orbital path in 1992.


The best approach for those who still want to enjoy the Perseids is to try and look out for "fireballs," especially bright shooting stars. The Perseids are known for providing many of these types of meteors who leave trains that last a second or so.


To catch the peak, go out between midnight and 3 am on Tuesday morning or at those same times any night this week. The meteors come from the direction of the constellation of Perseus which sits in the northeastern sky, but don't just look at the constellation when searching for shooting stars as they could appear at any point in the night sky. Stand with the moon behind you for the best viewing experience. It's best to avoid checking your phone while star gazing as the light messes with your ability to see the shooting stars.


The shower will continue to appear until August 24, but will get continually weaker as the week continues. 


The next meteor showers which could produce a noticeable amount of shooting stars are the Orionids which peak on October 21-22 and the Geminids which peak on the night of December 13-14, according to the American Meteor Society.  


The Orionids produce about 10-20 meteors at their maximum, although they occasionally produce as much as the Perseids with 50-75 shooting stars an hour.


The Geminids are usually the strongest meteor shower of the year with shooting stars which are often bright and intensely colored. Although the shower will also take place in a sky lit by an almost full moon, around 20-30 meteors may still be visible per hour since the Geminids produce a lot of fireballs, according to Space.com. The show starts earlier than most, with meteors becoming visible as early as 9-10 p.m.


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