Perseids Meteor Shower

The Perseid meteor shower provides one of the most striking displays compared to the other 360 odd meteors. The annual Perseid meteor peaks on August 12th when the number of meteors is expected to be above 75 meteors an hour in the Northern Hemisphere. This is much less than last year, when the Perseid meteor shower treated sky watchers to around 200 meteors an hour.  However this year a few favourable conditions will mean it is much easier to see the shooting stars in the sky.  The presence of a new moon means that faint meteors will be visible from Earth rather than being hidden in the darkness of the sky, and at the time the meteor shower is taking place Earth will be passing through a denser Swift-Tuttle dust stream than usual.  

The Perseid meteor shower is actually made up of dust and debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle.  Peak viewing time of the Perseid meteor shower is late Friday night, when small bits of dust and debris will collide and burn giving rise to the bright sparks across the sky.  The best places to see the Perseid meteor shower are somewhere dark away from the bright lights of town, and somewhere high above ground level, i.e. a mountain.  

The Fluxtimator tool available on the NASA website allows you to calculate the expected shower rate for any date and any location. Those living in the Southern Hemisphere region will see less activity from the Perseid meteor shower compared to those living in the Northern Hemisphere.  The Perseid meteor shower is thought to peak 70 showers an hour in the San Francisco area, whereas Perth, Australia will see virtually no Perseid meteor activity on the night of August 12-13th.  Rome by contrast is expected to see around 80 meteor showers an hour during the hours of 5-6am on the morning of August the 13th.  London is another excellent place to watch Perseid meteor showers, with the average shower rate being around as high as 41 by about 11pm of August 12th, and rising to 82 at 4am on August 13th.

If you happen to miss the Perseid meteor shower on August 12th more meteor showers while smaller in number, are still expected on Saturday the 13th August 2010. If you like shooting stars this is the best meteor shower to view according to astrologists and while it is not expected to be as spectacular as last year it is still worth watching.