Maui News

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

August 12, 2015, 7:52 AM HST
* Updated August 13, 10:03 PM
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Image: Chris Archer / Perseid Meteor Shower 2015

Image: Chris Archer / Perseid Meteor Shower 2015

By Meteorologist Malika Dudley / Email: [email protected]

The Perseid meteor shower peak is upon us. If you’ve been lucky (see Chris Archer’s image taken from Maui) you may have already caught a glimpse of them streaking across the night sky.

The actual expected peak runs from 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on August 12 but the best viewing times are early in the morning on August 12, from midnight to dawn and again early in the morning of August 13 from midnight to dawn.

At its peak observers could potentially see up to 80 meteors an hour. As NASA describes it – the “fireball champion of annual meteor showers” – has some standouts that shine as bright as Jupiter and Venus. According to NASA, a fireball is defined as an “explosion of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak.” You’ll be able to see those fireballs quite well over the next two nights due to a new moon expected August 14.

The Perseids often leave long trails and are generated as a result of Earth passing through the debris zone from Comet 109 P Swift Tuttle. This comet takes 130 years to orbit the sun, and passed through the earth’s part of the solar system back in 1992, leaving lots of fresh comet debris that led to particularly good showers.

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Viewing Tips:

  • Meteors are yellow in color and streak across the sky very quickly.
  • The meteors will appear to come from the constellation Perseus but your best bet to catch one is to look about a third of the way down from Perseus and away from the constellation so you can spot them streaking across the sky. However, meteors will appear in all parts of the night sky.
  • During the early morning hours, shower activity is combined with normal random meteor activity.
  • Dusk is the worst time to view meteors, as the number of meteors that are visible will increase as the night progresses.
  • Find the darkest place possible. The rule of thumb is to view from somewhere dark enough where you can see all the stars of the Big Dipper (7 total).
  • Find an open area where no trees or buildings intrude into your view.
  • Allow your eyes to adjust for 15 – 30 minutes.
  • Get comfortable. Dress appropriately and lie flat on your back with your feet facing south.

**Send us your photos of the meteor shower and we will share them with our MauiNow.com ohana! Email [email protected]**

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