Watch the Perseid meteor shower at its peak August 11-13: Morgan Paskert
Guest columnist Morgan Paskert is on staff at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center in Bay Village.
Look for! The Perseid meteor shower, one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year, will peak August 11-13.
In preparation for this cosmic event, planetarium specialist Bill Reed of the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center explains what a meteor shower is and provides tips for seeing “shooting stars” this month.
What is a meteor shower?
Comets are large icy bodies in the solar system. As a comet approaches the sun, its ice heats up and begins to release particles of dust and rock into the atmosphere, which can result in a glowing vapor trail.
Meteor showers occur when meteorites – rocks and debris left behind by a comet – enter Earth’s atmosphere. Meteorites are almost always small enough to burn up quickly in our atmosphere, so there is little chance of them hitting the Earth’s surface.
Meteors, commonly referred to as “shooting stars,” are the streaks of light that we see across the sky when a meteoroid burns in Earth’s atmosphere.
How can I observe the Perseid meteor shower?
Each year, Earth passes through the debris trail from Comet 109PSwift-Tuttle, resulting in visible meteor showers that peak between early and mid-August.
Meteor showers are named after the location of their radiant. To see the Perseid meteor shower at its peak, look northeast toward the constellation Perseus on the evening of August 11 or the early morning of August 12. Perseus will gradually rise into the night sky and reach its optimal vantage point just before sunrise.
You can expect to see meteors all over the sky overnight, with an average of 60 to 70 meteors per hour.
The key to seeing the Perseid meteor shower? Head to a dark, light area with minimal light pollution (excessive or inappropriate use of outdoor artificial light). Avoid looking at your phone, as it takes around 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to total darkness. The longer you wait, the more meteors you will see!
Bonus: The crescent moon phase from August 11 to 13 will result in favorable viewing conditions.
Space Science Programs at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center
The Lake Erie Nature & Science Center will be hosting the Perseid Meteor Shower Night starting at 7:15 PM on August 13th. Learn about meteor showers in the Schuele Planetarium, then head outside to witness one of nature’s greatest shows.
If time permits, telescope viewing will be available with the 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope from the center.
You can also join NASA’s JPL Solar System Ambassador Bill Reed for the Astronomy Club. Enjoy access to monthly meetings, Telescope Night programs, telescope rentals, planetarium movie nights and more.
Annual membership fee: $ 60 / household. Those interested in the Astronomy Club are welcome to enjoy their first meeting free of charge. Next meeting: 6:30 p.m. on August 18.
To learn more and to register for the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center programming, visit www.lensc.org.
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