Good show expected
from meteor shower
The annual Perseid meteor shower is worth staying up for tonight if it is not cloudy, says Carolyn Kaichi, Bishop Museum Planetarium manager.
That is because the moon will only be in the first quarter and will set by 11 p.m., so it will not be in the way the rest of the night. "We should have a really good view, providing the weather holds out," she said.
Kaichi said the peak night for the Perseids is tonight through tomorrow morning, but the best time to see the meteors is after midnight tomorrow, when the constellation Perseus is in the eastern sky.
The meteors appear to come from an area known as the radiant in the constellation, but they will shoot all across the sky, Kaichi said.
Mars also is fast approaching Earth (making its closest approach in October) and getting closer and brighter, Kaichi said.
She said Mars will be up at about the same time Perseus rises, and will be the brightest thing in the sky at about 11:15 p.m., since Jupiter sets before Mars rises.
Telescopes are not needed to see meteor showers, but go to a dark place to watch for them, Kaichi advised.
"The darker it is, the more chance of seeing dimmer meteors," Kaichi said. "In cities or an area with a lot of light, you will see only the very brightest of these."
Viewers early tonight should look to the northeast, but the Perseids should be overhead by early tomorrow morning, she said.
"The great thing about the Perseids, they often leave long trails so they're a good meteor shower to view," she said. "It has always been a fairly dependable shower for really nice meteors. The amount you see will depend on where you are."
The meteors are particles of debris left from the tail of the comet Swift-Tuttle, last seen in this part of the solar system in 1992.
They remain in space for Earth to run into as it orbits the sun, Kaichi said.
"When these pieces come into contact with the earth's atmosphere, they burn up as they fall at 132,000 mph," she said, resulting in "beautiful streaks in the sky."