WASHINGTON, August 11, 2014 – Tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday night will be time to capture the Perseids meteor shower. The Perseids Meteors are the cosmic grit, or the Perseus cloud, that trails the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle and those shooting streaks are often over a thousand years old.
Reports of the Perseids Meteor showers go back as far as A.D. 36, when the Chinese first recorded seeing the event. Adolphe Quetelet, a Belgian astronomer (1796-1874) first noticed the annual nature of the Perseids meteors in 1835.
While increased streaks attributed to the Perseids can be seen in the summer sky starting in mid-July. The peak nights are tonight and tomorrow (August 11-12, 2014) though you will see them linger over the remaining summer skies.
If you are lucky enough to have a clear night, and a dark area, you might see as many as 60-100 streaks per hour. Last night’s supermoon means that we still have a nearly full moon causing light pollution that might make viewing difficult, however if you can get out early, just as the moon rises, or stay up late, when the moon hits the western horizon, you might find yourself with a lively show. Slooh will be live streaming the meteors on the evening on the 12th, when the full move has waned a little further.
Frequency will increase as the moon crests to its highest point and they are usually at their most frequent right around midnight. Find the constellation Perseus the Hero, from which they get their name, in the NorthEast sky and look there for the meteors, however they can appear anywhere in the sky.
If you want to capture pictures, your iPhone alone won’t do it. You can purchase an app, like NightCap Pro ($1.99) that allows you to increase your exposure. App creators suggest that you put the phone in Airplane mode so that it stays quiet (no calls, no texts) and set it on a flat surface (flip the view around so you can see what you are shooting.) Tap the shutter to start and end the exposure.
If the Perseids don’t work out well for you a detailed list of yearly meteor events is available from the American Meteor Society. The Perseids meteor shower is regarded as the most active of the showers, however the Orionids in October will be in a darker sky, with less moon light interfering with your viewing.
The Slooh Perseids Meteor feed (starting time Tuesday, August 12, 7:00pm)
Lesser Delta Aquarids: