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

(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

Grab your binoculars to take a peek at nova in Arizona skies

In the most basic of all explanations, a nova is a star that reaches a critical mass, collapses under the pressure of gravity and then explodes.
5 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

With monsoon out of the way, October skies offer up amazing sights

October 2021 brings about some of the best that the night sky can offer up.
12 days ago
From left: Scott Bolton and Rick Nybakken during a briefing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory i...
Steve Kates

Jupiter and its moons will fill the eyes of starwatchers in October

Jupiter, the king of the planets, is the dominant planet in our October skies and it's easy to spot high in the southeastern sky at sunset.
19 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Steve Kates

Change of seasons pulls cold, blue elusive Neptune into view

September and October bring us some clear and cooler nights - just what the doctor ordered to view some amazing objects, like Neptune.
26 days ago
(Unsplash Photo)...
Steve Kates

September skies bring autumn’s harvest moon to light

We bring you some exciting news about a most amazing moon known as the harvest moon.
1 month ago
(NASA Photo)...
Steve Kates

Andromeda Galaxy shines as summer makes way for autumn

Deep within the constellation of Andromeda we come to a most interesting object - the great Andromeda Galaxy, or M31 and to some, NGC 224.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

...
DISC DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

What you need to know about spine health

With 540 million people suffering from lower back pain, it remains the leading cause of long-term disability. That’s why World Spine Day on Oct. 16 will raise awareness about spinal health with its theme, BACK2BACK. “BACK2BACK will focus on highlighting ways in which people can help their spines by staying mobile, avoiding physical inactivity, not overloading […]
...
Schwartz Laser Eye Center

How to sharpen your vision with elective procedures

Imagine opening your eyes in the morning and being able to see clearly. You wouldn’t have to wait to put on glasses or contacts, and there would be no more blurry showers nor forgetting where your glasses are.
...
Chris Kennedy

My Special Aflac Duck® taking flight in Arizona

For more than 65 years, Aflac has had the extraordinary opportunity and privilege to help provide peace of mind to individuals who have our supplemental insurance policies.
The best meteor shower of year will head across the sky soon