Perseid Meteor Shower Peak Starts Tonight to Stargazers Delight

by mcardinal

Justin Bullock, FISM News


Lay and professional astronomers a like are gearing up for one of the best annual meteor showers of the year. From August 11 – 13, 2021 the Perseid Meteor Shower will be at its peak viewing here on earth, particularly in the early morning hours. Viewing should be particularly excellent this year as there will be little to no moon obscuring the view and a larger than normal amount of meteors are expected to travel across the sky. No special equipment, including telescopes, will be necessary to watch the shower as well.

The Perseid Meteor Shower occurs annually whenever the Earth passes by the Comet Swift-Tuttle in their respective orbits around the sun. The Perseid meteors are the product of the debris trailing in the Comet Swift-Tuttle’s wake and come towards the earth at a blistering 130,000 miles per hour. Typically the meteors burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere approximately 60 miles above the Earth’s surface.

In the extremely rare cases that do make it through the atmosphere and reach the surface, these meteors change names to meteorites and they are invariably tiny by the time they crash land. The Perseid Meteor Shower is named for the Perseus constellation that is light years away from earth but also generally marks the focal point of the start of the meteor shower. By finding the Perseus constellation at some point from midnight to sunrise on Wednesday through Friday, you will be in for one of the coolest views in all of space.