​Perseid Meteor Shower: Annual Perseid Reveals Best Shower Display

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July 28, 2013

Get ready for Perseid to shine at night as the unique meteor shower will take place as the moon sets before midnight. August is usually meteor viewing season, so get ready because this one is going to be a good one.

For Northern Hemisphere observers, the latter half of July on into August will have one of the best displays before reaching its peak in mid-August.

The annual shower is beloved by everyone from meteor enthusiasts to summer campers, and 2013 will be an excellent one for the Perseids. The moon will set before midnight on the peak nights of Aug. 11 and 12, meaning dark skies for prospective observers.

In general, Earth encounters richer meteoric activity during the second half of the year, and stargazers are more likely to see twice as many meteors per hour in the predawn hours as compared with the evening hours. During the premidnight hours, the United States is on the “trailing” side of the Earth due to our orbital motion through space. Any meteoric particle generally must have an orbital velocity greater than that of the Earth to “catch” the planet.

After midnight, when the United States is turned onto the Earth’s “leading” side, any particle that lies along the Earth’s orbital path will enter the planet’s atmosphere as a meteor. As such, objects collide with the atmosphere at speeds of 7 to 45 miles per second, their energy of motion rapidly dissipates in the form of heat, light, and ionization, creating short-lived streaks of light popularly referred to as “shooting stars.”

Summertime meteors, occasionally flitting across your line of sight, are especially noticeable between mid-July and the third week of August. Between Aug. 3 and 15, there are no fewer than six different active minor displays.

The actual number of meteors a single observer can see in an hour depends strongly on sky conditions, but the only equipment you’ll need to see them are your eyes and a modest amount of patience.