The Perseid meteor shower returns this weekend, with peak shooting star viewing coming on Friday and Saturday.
But skygazers used to staying up for this annual meteor shower could possibly be thwarted by one other celestial event — the intense August full Moon, a “Super Moon,” that peaks Thursday, but will remain very brilliant through Saturday night.
“Sadly, this yr’s Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters,” Nasa astronomer Bill Cooke said in an announcement. “Most of us in North America would normally see 50 or 60 meteors per hour,” he said, “but this yr, through the normal peak, the total Moon will reduce that to 10-20 per hour at best.”
The Perseid meteor shower, with its high rate of shooting stars, is taken into account the most effective annual meteor showers for skygazers. The shower can be known for fireballs, brighter, longer lasting flares of sunshine from meteors relatively than easy streaks of sunshine.
Due to brightness of the Perseid, some will remain visible despite the intense full Moon, and observers that place the total Moon at their back and are patient should still see some shooting stars between midnight and dawn on Friday and Saturday.
Failing that, the meteor shower will proceed through 1 September as the total Moon fades, albeit with a lower frequency of meteors.
The Perseid meteor shower results from Earth passing through the trail of debris left by the comet Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun every 133 years. The comet last passed near Earth in 1992, and is not going to swing by again until 2125, but records suggest the Perseids that result from its trail we known to Europeans at the very least way back to the center ages.