Don’t miss the Perseid Meteor Shower! It’s going on now and will be running strong for the next three nights!
Look at this beauty, taken by Ken Christison, as shared by http://www.earthsky.org. See the meteor? It’s in the upper left part of your screen.
The Perseid Meteor Shower happens every year, as Earth passes through debris left from Comet Swift Tuttle. As these debris particles come crashing into our atmosphere at 35 miles per second (essentially as fast as traveling from Nashville to Memphis in six seconds), they burn up from intense frictional heating generated by collisions with air molecules. As they burn up, they flare up brightly and sometimes with colors!
Who can see it, how can you see it, when is best, and how many might you see?
First of all, everyone can see it. That goes for all of us in Tennessee, all of you in Kentucky, and folks all across the country. Last year, I enjoyed this annual event from New Hampshire with my niece and nephew. We saw 20-30 in an hour or so just by pulling out lounge chairs and looking up!
You do need the weather to cooperate. The good news is that tonight, viewing conditions couldn’t be much better. Notice most of you have a clear sky. There are some clouds though sliding over our southeasternmost counties.
Early tomorrow morning, spots of fog will limit viewing for some of you, especially in fog prone valleys and over areas where rain fell today.
You do want to get away from bright lights. If you’re near city lights, viewing will be difficult. Just put yourself in the darkest environment possible by turning off your porch light (assuming you just step outside your own house to watch), ensuring your blinds are closed, and leaving your smart phone in your pocket. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to darkness fully. Even looking at your smart phone for a couple seconds to check the time will set you back a couple minutes in terms of adjusting to the darkness. That could cost you a few meteors! The moon won’t play much of a role. It’ll be relatively low in the sky during the evening and set just after midnight.
Tonight will be very good (100-120 meteors per hour or so), as will Friday night. Tomorrow night will be the peak though, when 200 meteors will be possible!
No matter the night, it’s always best to try to see the Perseids after midnight. The hours between midnight and dawn will serve up the most meteors.
When you’re looking for meteors, just look up and take in as much of the sky as possible with your peripheral vision. If there’s some light pollution nearby, I’d focus on another part of the sky.
Most of all, have fun! This is a great way to spend some quality time with family members or friends. It’s relaxing and hopefully will make for some good memories!
Coming up tonight on Channel 4 News at 10pm, after the Olympics, we’ll talk about how weather could play a more significant role in viewing tomorrow night.