Weather Blog

Stellar viewing conditions for Perseid meteor shower

Stellar viewing conditions for Perseid meteor shower
One of the 2007 Perseids, courtesy of Spaceweather.com

Thursday midday update: The shower is on and going strong as we enter the peak time. Global reports in areas where it's dark like Europe and Asia were around 30-35 an hour, but recent reports since noon Pacific Time show some observers starting to get anywhere between 50-100 per hour. Should be a good show tonight!

Sure, the extended forecast shows nothing but sunshine and hot weather through the weekend, but there is still a significant chance of showers this week.

Meteor showers, that is...

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower is here as the Earth's orbit enters the dust field from the Comet Swift-Tuttle.

The shower actually lasts for several weeks (some have already been photographed), but the peak time is set for late Thursday night/early Friday morning. And the forecast is just about as perfect as you can ask for around the Northwest -- clear skies, warm overnight temperatures, and no pesky moonlight to wash out the sky.

So grab a thermos of coffee or cocoa, perhaps a blanket, and head out to someplace away from city lights and just look up.

The predicted peak is about 75 "shooting stars" per hour from Thursday dusk to 1 a.m. Friday morning Pacific Time, but you'll have to really get to a dark place to see them all.

Favored places might be the mountains, and since it's shaping up to be great camping weather, you can make a long weekend out of it. (Just be aware it'll still be into the 80s and 90s in the mountains during the day this weekend, so pack for very hot weather) but that means even at midnight, it'll probably still be well into the 70s.

Where else to go? The University of Washington Astronomy Department has a great list of favored places around here to watch the meteor shower.

And though the peak will pass by Friday, we'll still see occasional shooting stars through the weekend, just not as many.

Meteors will appear somewhat randomly across the sky, but they will appear to emanate from near the constellation Perseus, which will be in the northeast sky.

According to Dr. Dale Ireland, this meteor stream hits Earth almost head on in its orbit, which is why best viewing time is around local midnight. Meteors will flash across the sky at speeds reaching 130,000 mph and burn up in the atmosphere around 50-70 miles up.

More information at science.nasa.gov

Also, Twitter is flush with realtime meteor sightings. Search #meteorwatch on Twitter, or head to Meteorwatch.org.

What are you looking for? Here is a great video captued this week and posted on YouTube:

If you get any good video or photos of the meteor shower, you can submit them to our YouNews section.

Happy meteor watching!