YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — We are moving into the part of summer when we get to look up into the sky each night and try to catch a few shooting stars, or meteors, because the Perseid meteor shower is already underway. It can produce quite a show when it peaks in August if conditions are right.
This meteor shower is one of the most popular showers of the year, and it will last for around a month and a half. The shower starts July 14 and ends September 1, and will peak between August 11 and 13.
The Perseids result from the Earth passing through a trail of dust, ice, rock, and organic material that was left behind and in the tail of the comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet orbits the sun and leaves a trail of debris. And as the Earth’s orbit intersects with the comet’s every year, the debris burns up in the atmosphere, creating the great Perseid meteor shower we get to enjoy every summer.
A rate of 50 to 75 meteors per hour may be visible if conditions are right during the peak. The Swift-Tuttle comet only passes by Earth every 133 years. It will be a long time before it passes again, as it made its last pass in 1992.
The best time to see them is early in the morning, though this year, the moonlight will play a big role in the visibility of the Perseid shower. If there is not a bright moon, the shower can produce between 150 to 200 meteors per hour. When the moon is bright and full, the number of meteors is much lower, and a normal year produces around 100 meteors per hour at peak.
We will still have plenty of chances to catch the shower through the month and a half that we make our journey through the trail of dust from the comet Swift-Tuttle. Unfortunately, this year’s full moon will be close to the peak of the shower on August 11, which will limit the spectacular show that the shower could provide.