Storm, moon could hamper Perseid meteor shower viewing in MI

Perseid meteor shower 2017

Perseid meteor shower will peak on August 12 Reuters

The annual meteor shower already began on July 17 but the astronomical display will peak on the night of August 12. The Perseids are one of the most plentiful showers (50-100 meteors seen each hour) and occurs with warm summer nighttime weather, allowing sky watchers to easily view the shower. According to meteor expert Bill Cooke (who, incidentally, is on NASA's payroll), it's the most popular meteor shower of the year. It is associated with the Swift-Tuttle comet, which astronomers discovered in 1862. A good number of Perseid meteors will be bright, so you should be able to see Perseids, despite the moonlit glare. Unfortunately, the light reflecting off the moon will make it more hard to see the streaking meteors. The bits and pieces from comet Swift-Tuttle slam into the Earth's upper atmosphere at some 210,000 kilometers (130,000 miles) per hour, lighting up the nighttime with fast-moving Perseid meteors.

What causes the meteor shower?

The Perseid meteor shower makes an impressive lights show in the skies over the northern hemisphere every year in August. It may be that we've debunked that exhausted "Mars will be as big as the Moon" meme enough that the internet needed something new to go viral.

But the moon will not fully rise until around 11pm on Sunday, giving viewers plenty of time to observe the dark skies.

The particles - which can be as small as a grain of sand - meet a fiery end after roughly a thousand years, as part of the comet's dust cloud.

If skies are clear in your area, you can find the meteor shower "radiant" - the point in the night sky where the meteors appear to originate from - by looking in the north or northeastern sky, throughout the night. Lie on your back and look straight up.

The best place to see the Perseid meteor shower from is outside of your local city, town or village, away from sources of light pollution.

If you get to a dark place, the shower is best viewed between midnight and 6 a.m.

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