Meteor showers occur because Earth’s orbit takes it through the debris trails left behind by various comets, some of which don’t even exist any more!
But one of the best, the Perseids, is peaking right now.
They are popular because they are reliable, and because they occur in the warm season.
But this makes for a fantastic opportunity for a free, fun, family night, this weekend.
Here is what you need to know…
The Perseids occur for several weeks, because it takes that long for Earth to pass through the entire debris trail, but they peak this weekend.
Ideally, you want the darkest sky possible, and we are fortunate that the Moon phase is a crescent moon. Obviously, you want clear skies, which we should have, for the next several nights!
Usually, you can rely on seeing about 50 per hour…However, in years with a meteor storm, it is possible to see 3 times as many!
A meteor storm occurs when the comet creating the debris trail has recently passed, and so, earth goes through a fresh trail of debris.
The very best way to do this is to plan ahead. Find a place away from city lights, even if it is just a few miles outside of town. Bring lawn chairs and a cooler. You do not want binoculars for this!
Set up with about 15 minutes for your eyes to acclimate to the darkness.
And, you want to pick one direction, northeast, because that is where perseus is, the constellation where the meteors appear to be coming from.
Scan the NE sky without moving your head.
Moving your head can fool your eyes into seeing things move, that arent, like stars and planets.
This is a great opportunity for a new family tradition and a fun teaching moment, where you are the resident expert in your house, and it doesn’t have to cost you a cent!