Meteor Shower 'Outburst' this week

Published: Aug. 5, 2016 at 12:04 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:11 PM MST
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The best meteor shower of the year just got better. This week, the Perseids will light up the night sky in a spectacular way.

Here's what you need to know.

The Perseid meteor shower usually produces around 80 meteors per hour, more than any other annual meteor shower.  This year, that number could jump up to 200 per hour.

The reason? According to NASA, Earth will be running into more material left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, the source of the meteors. NASA added that Jupiter's gravity has tugged the debris stream from Swift-Tuttle, which places Earth more in the center of the stream, rather than the edge.  It's also possible Earth runs into three or more streams of debris, which could send the numbers of meteors per hour above 200.

Here's more good news.  The half moon will set around midnight, which should darken the night sky a bit to help us see the fainter meteors.

The Perseids will peak the night of Thursday, Aug. 11, but the night of Friday, Aug. 12 should also be a good show.  The meteors tend to radiate from the constellation "Perseus", which rises above the horizon around 10 p.m. Look to the northern sky, and you will be able to see some by then, but the best time to look will be from midnight until dawn. Just get away from as much city light as you can (not too difficult for us in Arizona!).

The sun will rise at 5:46 a.m. MST.

image: NASA/JPL

While the forecast is for up to 200 meteors per hour, it's not a guarantee. Either way, the Perseids is still the best shower to watch every year.  The other variable is the weather.  Right now, we have potentially more rainy nights with clouds that could block our view in the forecast Thursday and Friday next week.  Hopefully that changes leading up to the event!

Finally - DO NOT believe posts on the internet that suggest this will be the last chance you get to see the Perseids. It will be back next August!

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