The Perseid meteor shower is already underway and will continue through Aug. 24. The peak viewing will be Aug. 11-12. Stargazers could see upward of 60 meteorites flash before them per hour.According to Astronomy.com, the Perseid meteor shower has some added bonuses this year: It will occur on a night when the moon is in its waning crescent phase, which means the moonlight will interfere only slightly with your view of the falling stars.
"The meteors don’t really start to pick up steam until after midnight, and usually don’t bombard the sky most abundantly until the wee hours before dawn," writes Bruce McLure on theEarthSky website. McLure doesn't suggest looking at any particular part of the sky -- just look up, he suggests, perhaps while reclining on a blanket or lounge chair.
And you don't have to wait until the night of Aug. 11-12, according to McLure. That and the night of Aug. 12-13 are only the peak evenings, he says -- the stars will be falling this week, as well.
You don't even need a telescope. Just spread out a blanket, perhaps a late-night picnic, lay back and enjoy!
Perseid Meteor Trivia:
- Mankind has looked up at the Perseids for nearly 2,000 years.
- The Perseids are remnants of the Swift-Tuttle comet, which orbits the sun every 133 years.
- These bits of comet "ice and dust" are more than 1,000 years old.
- These meteors travel 37 miles per second.
- The Perseids can be seen all over the sky, but the best viewing opportunities will be across the northern hemisphere.
- Those with sharp eyes will see that the meteors radiate from the direction of the constellation Perseus, which forms an inverted "Y" shape and is in the northeast.
- Larger meteorites that aren't slowed much by the earth's atmosphere can have the kinetic energy of a nuclear bomb.
- If you see a very slow, bright object sailing across the sky, it's either a satellite or the space station.
Where and how to view:
- The best time to view will be Aug. 11 and 12.
- Avoid city lights. The further you get from them, the better your view will be.
- Think wide open spaces so you can have an expansive view of the sky, such as parks, fields and conservation lands.
Where do you like to stargaze in Rye?
Editor's note: This article, in somewhat different form, was previously published by Concord Patch in Massachusetts.