One of the best meteor showers of the year is upon us. The Perseids take over the night sky with a brilliant display of shooting stars all week long. Making this year's edition even better, is the moon, or lack there off. As the phase inches closer and closer to New Moon status, less light looks to contaminate the viewing.
The oldest meteor shower known to Earth should be especially vivid overnight Wednesday, peaking at around 2 a.m., local time.
A NASA expert says it's because the moon is "almost new" -- so there won't be any moonlight to "mess with the show."
In areas where the weather is good, sky-watchers should be able to see one shooting star a minute.
The best way to see it is to lie down and look up -- no telescopes needed.
The Perseids find their name from the constellation Perseus, which is found in the part of the sky where most of the meteors radiate from.
So that begs the question, how do meteor showers like the Perseids take shape. In this instance, the Perseids happen every August as the orbit of earth passes through a debris field left from a passing comet. The comet of interest in this case is the Comet Swift Tuttle, which was last near earth in 1992.
The pieces of comet that striker our atmosphere begin to burn up and create the streak you see in the sky. It's very deceptive though. Based on the flash of light created, the debris seems large. However, most pieces that strike earth are no more than the size of a pea.
The first few days of peak viewing have already brought us pretty good opportunities from mother nature. This photo taken by Matt Freechack near Lansing shows a nice catch of a meteor near dawn on Monday.
Peak viewing for the Perseids lasts for about five days, usually around the 10th through 14th of August. In this stretch it is anticipated around 50-100 meteors can be seen per hour. The pinnacle should be Wednesday night/Thursday morning.
The best time to view would be after midnight, when the constellation Perseus is higher in the northeast sky. Dawn should put an end to viewing as daylight begins to contaminate the night sky.
Mother Nature shouldn't provide too much disruption for the remainder of the peak viewing. The one night that may be hindered is Thursday night, when a there is a possibility for scattered rain.
If you head out for viewing... no need for special means to see it. Leave the binoculars and telescopes at home. Everything you will see can be seen with the naked eye. But If you do have a long exposure camera, set it up to take a few shots. If you get something, we'd love to take a peak and share with all of our ABC 6 friends! You can e-mail us at email@example.com or find me on facebook or twitter.
Storm Tracker 6 Chief Meteorologist