The Perseid meteor shower, one of the year's best, is coming up late this week. The best viewing will be in the hours between midnight Aug. 12 and dawn on Aug. 13, according to the editors of StarDate magazine.
Though the shower technically peaks at about 7 p.m. CDT Aug. 12, prime viewing time begins when the constellation Perseus rises into view in the northeast around midnight. By then, too, the slender crescent Moon will have slipped below the horizon and its light will not interfere with the faint meteors. If skies are clear, skywatchers can expect to see dozens of meteors per hour between midnight and dawn.
For high-resolution graphics and HD animation of the Perseid meteor shower, visit StarDate's Media Center. There, you can also sign up to receive notices of upcoming skywatching events.
The animation is also available on StarDate's YouTube channel.
Perseid meteors appear to fall from the constellation Perseus, but they are not associated with it. The meteors are actually leftover debris from comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseid meteors recur each year when Earth passes through its debris trail.
For your best view, get away from city lights. Look for state or city parks or other safe, dark sites. Lie on a blanket or reclining chair to get a full-sky view. If you can see all of the stars in the Little Dipper, you have good dark-adapted vision.
Published bi-monthly by The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory, StarDate magazine provides readers with skywatching tips, skymaps, beautiful astronomical photos, astronomy news and features, and a 32-page Sky Almanac each January.
Established in 1932, The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, hosts multiple telescopes undertaking a wide range of astronomical research under the darkest night skies of any professional observatory in the continental United States. McDonald is home to the consortium-run Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world's largest, which will soon be upgraded to begin the HET Dark Energy Experiment. An internationally known leader in astronomy education and outreach, McDonald Observatory is also pioneering the next generation of astronomical research as a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope.