Perseid Meteor Shower Gearing Up For A Stellar Showing

The annual Perseid meteor shower is gearing up to be stellar this year.

Once a year, between the middle of July and the end of August, the Perseid meteor shower is visible in the skies over the Northern Hemisphere. It is known for being the brightest and most visible of the annual meteor showers known at this time.

This year, when the Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak, we will be experiencing a new moon. With the sky darker than normal, every shooting star will be more visible. Viewers may not even need a telescope in order to get the full effect.

“The 2015 Perseid meteor shower will peak around August 11. A new moon on August 14, 2015 will create perfect conditions for watching the meteor shower,” reported the timeanddate.com website. “The best time to view the Perseids, or most other meteor showers is when the sky is the darkest. Most astronomers suggest that depending on the Moon’s phase, the best time to view meteor showers is right before dawn.”

Right before dawn, with no extra light from the moon, the Perseids will light up the sky with a fantastic showing of meteors and their trails.

“The Perseids feature fast and bright meteors that frequently leave trains, and in 2015 there will be no moonlight to upstage the shower,” NASA stated.

Conditions to view the Perseid meteor shower have not been this good since 2010.

What causes the annual shower?

Leah Whitehorse, an astronomer quoted by the Huffington Post, explained the science behind the beautiful sight.

“Every year between the 17th July and the 24th August, the Earth passes through a trail of debris left by the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet was discovered in 1862 but records of the Perseids date back to 36AD. As the Earth passes through the debris, the dust is drawn to the Earth’s atmosphere. A tiny speak of dust can burn spectacularly in the night sky. As many as 60 – 100 meteors per hour can be seen in a clear sky in the countryside. Travelling at around 37 miles per second the meteors heat up to somewhere in the region of 3000 degrees Fahrenheit and either vaporize or explode.”

To be in the best situation to see the Perseid meteor shower, try to get to an area with a clear view of the sky and as little light pollution as possible.

[ Image courtesy of Ethan Miller/Getty Images ]