Categories: Meteor Shower Perseids Meteor Shower
2015 Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight
The 2015 Perseid Meteor Shower is visible for about two weeks before and after its peak which occurs during the early morning hours of August 13, 2015. The summer’s best meteor shower will be more spectacular this year due to a moonless mid-August that will darken the night sky and make it easier to see the meteors.
2015 Perseid Meteor Shower: Where To Watch
The Perseids meteor shower will be visible almost all over the world – but will be best seen in the northern hemisphere. A major determining factor on where a good place is to watch the Perseids meteor shower is local cloud cover and artificial light pollution.
2015 Perseid Meteor Shower: Where To Look
You can tell if a meteor belongs to a particular shower by tracing back its path to see if it originates near a specific point in the sky, called the radiant. The constellation in which the radiant is located gives the shower its name, and in this case, Perseids appear to come from a point in the constellation Perseus.
2015 Perseid Meteor Shower: When To Watch
The meteor shower will be viewable throughout the night. Between the hours of 3 AM to 4 AM Eastern Daylight Time is the best time to watch this meteor shower. Before midnight, the meteor rate will start out low, then increase as the night wears on, peaking before sunrise when the constellation Perseus is high in the sky.
More Fireballs Than Any Other Meteor Shower
The Perseids Meteor Shower produces more fireballs than any other meteor shower, according to Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. A fireball is a very bright meteor, at least as bright as the planets Jupiter or Venus. They can be seen on any given night as random meteoroids strike Earth’s upper atmosphere. One fireball every few hours is not unusual. Fireballs become more numerous, however, when Earth is passing through the debris stream of a comet. That’s what will happen this August.
Cooke thinks the Perseids are rich in fireballs because of the size of the parent comet. Comet Swift-Tuttle has a huge nucleus–about 26 km in diameter,” comments Cooke. “Most other comets are much smaller, with nuclei only a few kilometers across. As a result, Comet Swift-Tuttle produces a large number of meteoroids, many of which are large enough to produce fireballs.”
According to NASA, the Perseids have been observed for about 2,000 years. The source of the annual meteor shower is the debris trail left behind comet Swift-Tuttle. Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s debris. These bits of ice and dust burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. Most of the Perseid meteors that we observe now were ejected from Swift-Tuttle about 1,000 years ago.
Video and image credit: NASA
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