Aug 06, 2013 02:25 PM EDT
Perseid Meteor Shower 2013: Shooting Stars a Plenty August 11-13
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The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Observer's Handbook predicted about 90 meteors per hour during its heaviest period. There will be a few visible shooting stars on the night of the 11th, but the biggest show is expected early on the morning of the 12th.
Optimal viewing locations will be anywhere dark, away from streetlights, houses and buildings. While the meteor shower will peak for those two days, various shooting stars will appear several days before and after.
"We have found that one meteor shower produces more fireballs than any other," Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office said in a statement. "It's the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks on August 12th and 13th."
Every year, the Earth's orbit takes it through a dust trail left behind by the Swift-Tuttle Comet, named after its two separate discoverers Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle in 1862. According to Space.com, the dust burns up in the atmosphere as the Earth passes by and creates the bright shooting star show.
"Comet Swift-Tuttle has a huge nucleus - about 26 kilometers [16 miles] in diameter," Cooke said in a statement. "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."
Cooke agreed with leaving behind any sort of light source for the best viewing experience, but he recommended a different viewing time altogether. He said the best time to watch the shower will be from 10:30 p.m. Aug. 12 to 4:30 a.m. Aug. 13.
"Get away from city lights," Cooke said. "While fireballs can be seen from urban areas, the much greater number of faint Perseids is visible only from the countryside."