WISCONSIN (WFRV) – Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning will mark the peak of the Perseid meteor showers. The annual event is known as one of the best meteor showers in the Northern Hemisphere and is active from July 17 to August 24.
Origins of this event occur when the Earth passes through the debris field left by the Comet Swift-Tuttle, the parent object of the meteor showers. In the sky, those meteors appear to come from the constellation Perseus, thus the name Perseid meteor shower.
The best time to view the meteors will be after midnight into the pre-dawn hours on August 12. There is no specific direction the viewer will have to gaze on the meteors because they brightly radiate directly overhead – that’s called the radiant. An open sky that isn’t blocked by trees or tall buildings is essential for observation because the meteors travel in differing directions. The meteors are also visible to the naked eye, so no equipment will be needed by the skywatchers.
Viewers can expect to see about 50 meteors per hour. Some fireballs, or very bright meteors, have been seen yearly routinely from the event and have produced the best images. However, moonlight tends to fade out some of more faint meteors.
At this year’s peak, the moon will be slightly passed the last quarter phase. This means the moon will rise at midnight and play a factor in obscuring some of the meteors. Therefore, it is recommended by some experts to sit in the moon’s shadow to help see more bright meteors. To be in the moon’s shadow, find a spot where you’re shielded from the moonlight.
Light pollution in major cities can also limit the number of meteors a viewer can see. In Northeast Wisconsin, this phenomenon will likely not be an issue.
Our Storm Team 5 forecast for Tuesday night into Wednesday morning is calling for clear skies across Northeast Wisconsin. Minimal cloud cover overnight will increase the chance of viewing the meteors across the night sky in the early morning hours. Temperatures will also be pleasant in the 60s.
The Perseid meteor showers will return once again to the area next summer.
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