The Perseid meteor shower 2017 will reach its peak on August 12, and here’s how to view the celestial spectacle at its finest.
The Perseid meteor shower is a phenomenon that takes place annually and usually shows up in August when Earth “ventures through trails of debris left behind by an ancient comet,” NASA wrote. In this case, the ancient comet is known as Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which passed over Earth in 1992. This year, however, is more special than previous ones as the Earth may come closer to the comet trail than usual, giving viewers a clearer view of the meteor shower.
Furthermore, experts at NASA suggest that Earth may be colliding with three or more debris streams. This means viewers will not only see remnants of the Swift-Tuttle comet, but they will also get a glimpse of meteors that came from comet flybys that took place hundreds or thousands of years ago.
Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office said that forecasts predict Perseid outbursts to occur on August 11 and August 12. Under perfect conditions, which mean clear skies and a dark location, the rate could reach up to 200 meteors per hour.
An outburst is a term used to describe a meteor shower that showcases more meteors than usual. The last outburst visible on Earth occurred in 2009.
The meteors will fly out from the direction of the constellation Perseus in the northeastern part of the night sky, hence the name Perseid.
The best time to watch the Perseid meteor shower 2017 is after midnight and during the dawn on August 12. According to Yahoo! News, no equipment is needed to view “the shooting stars” as they are visible to the naked eye on a cloud-free evening. However, it is necessary to give the eyes around 45 minutes to adjust to the darkness in order to clearly see the meteors.
Spectators can enjoy the Perseid meteor shower 2017 by simply going to a dark and pollution-free place. According to Conde Nast Traveler, some of the best spots to watch the event in the United States include the beaches on the East Coast and the Big Bear Lake in California.
In the United Kingdom, stargazers are advised to head out of the city or visit an open field such as the Peak District or the Lake District, Mirror reported.
Those who are unable to view the Perseid meteor shower 2017 outdoors may catch a live broadcast of the display online via Ustream on August 11 to 12 and August 12 to 13, starting at 10 p.m. EDT.
[Featured Image by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]