Weather Blog: 3 Active Meteor Showers Lighting Up The Night Sky
Star gazing is hitting prime time. There are currently three active meteor showers: the Southern Delta Aquariids, the Alpha Capricornids, and the Perseids.
The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers of the year. During this time of year, Earth enters into an area of space with debris left behind from Comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet leaves behind a trail of debris that Earth passes through every year. These tiny pieces of space debris enter Earth's atmosphere and burn up due to friction. As the meteors burn up in our atmosphere it creates the shooting star phenomena. The Perseids are swift moving meteors with velocities around 37 miles per second! This shower will have a strong peak August 12-13 with meteor rates at 50-75 per hour. Viewing is best when the constellation Perseus is high in the sky.
This shower is best seen from the southern tropics, but a few can still be seen in the northern hemisphere. These meteors will be faint and shoot across the sky low in the horizon, which is why they are sometimes tough to see. The velocity of meteors in this shower is around 26 miles per second. This shower will peak July 29-30, but it stays active until Augusta 23rd. These meteors are caused by the Comet 96P.
This shower doesn’t produce a lot of meteors, but the ones it does produce are bright fireballs shooting relatively slow across the sky. The velocity of meteors in this shower is around 15 miles per second. Viewing is good in the northern hemisphere, but they aren’t that frequent. The Alpha Capricornids will also peak July 29-30, but it stays active until August 15th. These meteors are caused by the Comet 169P.
- The key to viewing meteor showers is patience. Don’t expect to walk out your front door, look up, and then start seeing shooting stars everywhere. Find an area clear from obstructions, lay a blanket down, and enjoy.
- Be sure to go out early, around 15 minutes, and let your eyes adjust to the darkness before you hit the peak time.
- If you are viewing from an area with a lot of artificial light, like Augusta, then light pollution will prevent you from seeing many of the meteors. It is best to get out in the country, lay a blanket down, and look up.