Annual Perseid Meteor Shower set to dazzle Sunday night
SEATTLE -- Luck is with stargazers in Western Washington this year as we head toward the annual peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower.
Usually among the best, if not THE best meteor shower of the year, it's set to peak on Sunday night/Monday morning.
According to Space.com, astronomers are projecting a slightly lower than normal rate of 60-80 meteors per hour across North America under perfect conditions as the planet swings through the debris field left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet -- much of it no larger than a speck of dust. That's a bit below some of the best year's displays that can have as many as 200 meteors an hour!
Seattle and Western Washington are in a good spot with the meteor shower coming from near the constellation Perseus -- about 32 degrees above the northeastern horizon. But that's just where the meteors originate; you'll be able to see the meteors in any section of the sky -- just look up!
Weather and moon conditions are favorable as well -- much better than last year's double-downer of clouds and a bright moon. This year the moon will be nearly new (just 5 percent visible) and while some clouds are around Sunday morning, forecasts show clearing skies Sunday nights. Technically around 2 a.m. on Monday morning the 13th appears to be the best time to catch the most streaks, but Sunday morning at 2 a.m. should also be a prime viewing time.
Best viewing tips are to find a dark sky away from city lights in the hours past midnight either night, get some coffee to stay up late and maybe a blanket and chairs (and bug repellent?) There's no trick to actually seeing the meteor streaks, just look up and be patient. In really dark areas you'll be able to see several meteors. If you're trying to cheat and stay closer to the city, you'll still be able to see some of the brighter streaks, they'll just be more sporadic.
But just because the peak is Saturday and Sunday nights, doesn't mean you might not spy one in the days before and after the peak. Earth remains in the comet's dusty trail through Aug. 24, according to in-the-sky.org
If you get photos of the Perseids, we'd love to see them! You can submit them through our Chime In page or email to firstname.lastname@example.org