DR. SKY BLOG

The best meteor shower of year will head across the sky soon

Jul 21, 2021, 2:00 PM
(AP File Photo)...
(AP File Photo)
(AP File Photo)

It’s that time again!

Get ready for the arrival of what may be the best meteor shower in all of 2021 as we head toward the peak of the Perseid meteor shower.

The annual Perseid meteor shower will be building up speed, and with hopefully clear skies, you may be in store for a real celestial treat.

The Perseids are active from about July 25 to Aug. 24, with a projected peak during the early morning hours of Aug. 12.

The meteor shower was first thought to come from the region of stars we call the constellation of Perseus. Astronomer Adolphe Quetelet first noticed a large group of bright meteors streaming out of this region of the sky back in 1835.

Thus, the shower is known as the Perseids.

The first connection between comets and meteor showers was brought to the attention of scientists when Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli noted that the passage of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle in 1862.

This comet is the source of all the meteors which we call the Perseid meteor cloud. Every year, the Earth passes into the orbital plane of the comet and can provide us with an amazing display of comet debris.

Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle orbits the sun once every 133 years or so, and during these close encounters there is usually a surge of meteor debris seen in the sky.

The reason that the Perseids may be the best shower of 2021 is the fact that the moon will be new on Aug. 8, providing the darkest of skies.

Combine that with a peak for this celestial fireworks display on the night of Aug. 11, and it could give a real show if you live in an area that is away from city lights and monsoon storms.

The week of Aug. 8 is a great time to get in your Perseid mode and begin by looking to the northeast sky after 10 p.m.

The constellation of Perseus will rise higher and higher in this area of the sky.

The “radiant” of this shower will rise higher each hour and be nearly overhead by dawn, so look in all directions the closer you are to dawn.

You may get to see well over 60 meteors per hour. Some will be very bright, like fireballs, and leave a nice afterglow behind them.

Binoculars will help you see the amazing detail in these celestial contrails.

Singer John Denver observed the Perseids with family, and in his song “Rocky Mountain High” and added the lyrics, “I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky” — a nice tribute to this amazing sight in nature.

The parent comet of this meteor shower, 109P/Swift-Tuttle is a most amazing comet, was first seen by the Chinese in 69 B.C.

This comet is the largest solar system object that makes repeated close approaches to Earth and has been described by some as the most dangerous object known to humanity.

Of future close passes to Earth, there seems to be no specific date or time for an impact, just a very close encounter.

If the 20-mile or so cometary nucleus were to hit Earth, it would have 27 times the energy of the last impact extinction event known as the Cretaceous event 65 million years ago.

Now you know the story of the Perseids and how to view them and enjoy a display of space debris, most smaller than pebbles and sand-sized space debris.

For more information on the meteor shower and ways to find objects in our Arizona skies click here or here.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM on Saturdays at 3 a.m.

The Dr.Sky Podcast is here.

Dr. Sky Blog

(Pixabay Photos)...
Steve Kates

It’s not a Thanksgiving turkey in the sky – that’s Cygnus the Swan

Point a pair of binoculars toward the sky on Thanksgiving night and find the magnificent Cygnus the Swan constellation.
7 days ago
NASA's new moon rocket lifts off from Launch Pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral,...
Steve Kates

Everything you need to know about NASA’s Artemis I rocket to the moon

The long-awaited launch of the NASA Artemis 1 moon rocket has finally happened!
14 days ago
This Crab Nebula mosaic image was taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA/ESA Image)...
Steve Kates

The magic of constellation Taurus includes open star clusters

As we move deeper into the skies of autumn, we come across the zodiac sign of Taurus the Bull.
21 days ago
(NASA Image)...
Steve Kates

Taurid meteor shower could bring in colorful fireball season in coming days

With Halloween behind us and the prospect of a new set of November events to look forward to in our skies, we present fireball season 2022!
28 days ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
Steve Kates

Lots to be thankful for up in the November skies, including a total lunar eclipse

As 2022 is nearly complete, we look to the skies of November for some amazing events to rally around, the best of which is a total lunar eclipse.
1 month ago
NASA spacecraft Lucy (NASA Photo)...
Steve Kates

NASA spacecraft Lucy completes first year of long-term mission to asteroids

Back nearly a year ago, NASA launched a very unique spacecraft to the planet Jupiter - the 3,400-pound high-tech craft known as Lucy.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
The best meteor shower of year will head across the sky soon