The Perseid Meteor Shower is considered to be among the best of the annual displays thanks to its high rate of up to 90+ meteors per hour. This year, watch the shower on the nights of August 11th through August 13th. The shower can be seen anytime after 10-11:00 PM , but the best time is in the hours just before dawn.
Every August the night sky is peppered with bits of comet debris in what is called the annual Perseid meteor shower. The Perseids are bits of the comet Swift-Tuttle and often create the most amazing meteor shower of the year.
The Persied meteoroids are fast. They enter the Earth’s atmosphere at roughly 133,200 mph and are about the size of a grain of sand. Very few are as big as peas or marbles. Almost none hit the ground but if one does, it’s called a meteorite.
When a Perseid particle enters the atmosphere, it compresses the air in front of it, which heats up. The meteor, in turn, can be heated to more than 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The intense heat vaporizes most meteors, creating what we call shooting stars. Most become visible at around 60 miles up. Some large meteors splatter, causing a brighter flash called a fireball, and sometimes an explosion that can often be heard from the ground.
This year the display is extra special because of the planets Jupiter and Venus and the crescent moon. Jupiter, Venus and the crescent moon will gather together just as the Perseid Meteor shower reaches its peak. The alignment will take place in the eastern sky just before sunrise. In addition, the red giant star Aldebaran will be visible in the eastern sky adding a splash of color.