Every year from mid-July to late August, astronomers can observe the Perseid meteor shower, often known as the Perseids. The American Meteor Society (AMS) predicts that the shower’s peak will occur between August 11 and 12. (opens in new tab). Due to the full moon lighting up the sky, the 2022 Perseids won’t be quite as beautiful as they were in 2021. The Perseids are brought on by Earth travelling through ice and rock fragments left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last came within striking distance of Earth in 1992
. On August 11–12, as Earth passes through the region with the most dust and density, the Perseids reach their peak. There are more meteors per hour in years with no moonlight, and in years with outbursts (like 2016), there may be 150–200 meteors per hour or more. At the peak of the meteor shower, you can anticipate to see up to 100 meteors per hour on a more typical year, according to NASA (opens in new tab).
Although it didn’t significantly block the view of the meteor shower last year because the moon was only a thin crescent, the moon’s brightness is nevertheless a problem for skywatchers who want a good view. The Perseids are exceptionally bright, although moonlight might make viewing a little challenging. The full moon lighting up the sky will have an impact on this year’s Perseids peak.
When it enters Earth’s atmosphere, a typical Perseid meteoroid—which is what they are known as in space—travels at a speed of 133,200 mph (214,365 kph) (and then they are called meteors). The majority of Perseid meteors are small, around the size of a sand grain. Nearly none of the pieces fall to earth, but when they do, they are referred to as meteorites.
As each fragment of the Perseid meteor passes through the atmosphere, compressing and heating the air in front of it, the maximum temperatures for Perseids are above 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 degrees Celsius). When they are roughly 60 miles (97 kilometres) above the ground, the majority of the fragments become visible.
WHAT CAUSES THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER?
The comet Swift-Tuttle is to blame for this well-liked yearly sky display.Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle, two astronomers, independently discovered Swift-Tuttle in 1862. In 1992, it made its most recent trip past Earth, but it was too dim to be viewed with the unaided eye. If forecasts are accurate, the comet’s brightness on the next visit in 2126 may be comparable to that of the Hale-Bopp comet from 1997.
The nucleus of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which is around 16 miles (26 kilometres) across, is the biggest object known to continually pass past Earth. The next time it will come close to Earth during its orbit around the sun will be in 2126, after it last did so in 1992. According to NASA, when you observe a meteor shower, what you are actually witnessing is cometary debris heated up as it enters the atmosphere and burning up in a dazzling burst of light, leaving a vivid trail across the sky as it moves at a speed of 37 miles (59 kilometres) per second.
WHERE CAN YOU SEE THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER?
The constellation from which a meteor shower appears to be coming is the source of the shower’s name. The Perseid meteor shower appears to be coming from about the location of the Perseus constellation in the Northern Hemisphere from Earth’s vantage point. The Northern Hemisphere and mid-southern latitudes are the finest places to view the Perseid meteor shower, and all you need to watch the display is some patience, a comfortable place to relax, and darkness.
Look for the radiant, or location in the sky where the Perseid meteors appear to come from, to locate the Perseid meteor shower. NASA states that the Perseids’ radiant is located in the Perseus constellation. Even though Perseus isn’t the most obvious constellation, it neatly moves across the night sky alongside the more noticeable and brighter Cassiopeia. Although the constellation is not the source of the meteors, it is where the meteor shower emanates from, giving it its name.
Lean back and unwind while seeing the Perseids in the darkest area you can find. The key is to take in as much of the sky as you can and give your eyes around 30 minutes to become used to the dark, so you don’t need any binoculars or telescopes. Check out our how to photograph meteors and meteor showers guide for more tips on how to capture the Persied meteor shower. If you need imaging equipment, take a look at our top cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
IS THERE A BEST TIME TO SEE THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER?
Early in the morning is the optimum time to search for meteors. According to AMS, the meteors will be most active between August 11 and 12. The Perseids are scheduled to be active from July 14 to August 24. Your best chance to see the sky dotted with brilliant meteors is usually on peak viewing days. Look up and to the north to see the meteors. In order to observe more meteors, people in southern latitudes should look toward the northeast.
The southern delta Aquariid meteor shower, which peaks in late July, might possibly provide some stray meteors for skywatchers keeping an eye out for the Perseids. Even though viewing the southern delta Aquariids from the Southern Hemisphere is recommended, they can occasionally be seen from mid-latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere.
THE EARTH AND COMET SWIFT-TUTTLE COULD COlliDE
Swift-Tuttle may pass dangerously close to Earth in 2126 and perhaps smash with the planet, according to an astronomer who calculated its orbit. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s introduction, however, states that further clarifications demonstrate the comet won’t.
The Swift-Tuttle spacecraft may travel by Earth in the year 3044 and come as close as a million kilometres. In astronomical terms, the comet is relatively close because that is little over twice as far away as the distance between the Earth and the moon.