What to Expect From This Weekend's Perseid Meteor Shower

NASA debunks a rumor
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2017 6:10 PM CDT
Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks This Weekend
Meteors streak across the sky near Madrid during the 2014 Perseid meteor shower.   (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki, File)

Last year's Perseid meteor shower was an extravaganza. Don't expect the same this year. While astronomers are expecting a decent 150 meteors per hour during peak hours between midnight and dawn on Aug. 12 and 13—a little less than the 200 per hour visible in 2016—NASA's Bill Cooke warns light from a three-quarter full moon will "wash out the fainter Perseids," resulting in a visible meteor "every couple of minutes," per Space.com. In other words, this won't be the "brightest shower in recorded human history," as some on social media have suggested, Cooke writes in a blog post.

But that doesn't mean it won't be a good show, with meteors visible to viewers across the Northern Hemisphere, per Newsweek. They'll appear to come from the constellation Perseus, from which the shower gets its name. In reality, though, the meteors are a result of the Earth passing through a debris trail left by a comet, which it does every August. For your best chance at seeing meteors, head away from city lights and allow 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, NASA suggests. EarthSky notes watching from an area shaded from moonlight will also help this year. (A total solar eclipse is up next.)

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