Meteor shower tonight
The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The heavens will be bursting with shooting stars this week.
Tonight into early Friday, the annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak with double the normal number of meteors. Scientists call this an outburst, and they say it could reach up to 200 meteors per hour.
Prime viewing should be in the pre-dawn hours of Friday, after the moon sets.
The last Perseids outburst was in 2009. Thanks to a gravity nudge from Jupiter, debris from comet Swift-Tuttle could stray closer to Earth again. These scattered specks of dust — a trail in the comet’s wake — are what flash as they enter the atmosphere at a mind-blowing 132,000 mph and burn up.
“Here’s something to think about. The meteors you’ll see this year are from comet flybys that occurred hundreds if not thousands of years ago,” NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke said in a statement. “And they’ve traveled billions of miles before their kamikaze run into Earth’s atmosphere.”
Scientists hope to capture the action with a new instrument at the International Space Station. The U.S.-Japanese experiment’s name is appropriately named Meteor.
An August tradition, the Perseids are so named because the meteors appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus, the Medusa-killing hero of Greek mythology.
How to Watch the Perseids
According to NASA’s website, the best way to see the Perseids is to go outside between midnight and dawn on Friday morning. Being away from city lights will give you a better view. Allow about 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. Lie on your back and look straight up. Increased activity may also be seen through Saturday.
For stargazers experiencing cloudy or light-polluted skies, a live broadcast of the Perseid meteor shower will be available via Ustream beginning at 7 p.m., on Thursday through Friday morning and Friday through Saturday morning.