The Perseid Meteor Shower 2018 Facts
The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks on the nights of August 11th /12th and 12th / 13th 2017 but any clear evening up to and a few nights after should produce some meteors. Look to the NE after midnight, look under the big W of Cassiopeia , above Perseus. The radiant of the meteor shower is in that area, however keep an eye on a much wider area for Perseids. Earth will pass through the path of Comet Swift-Tuttle from July 17 to Aug 24. Our planet will pass through dust and particles left behind by the comet. Most of these comet particles are only the size of a grain of sand. They hit our atmosphere at approx 59 km per second and burn up. This year the moon will not interfere with the darkness of the sky as it will be a thin crescent setting before midnight.
What do you need to see the Perseids ?
It's the best meteor shower of the year, because it is mostly warm and being outside is comfy. Get yourself extra comfy by setting up a beach chair with a good view to the NE. A few snacks, maybe a blanket and that is it. All that is required is a clear night and being attentive to the sky. Some meteors are only fractions of seconds long, some seem like a minute. Some appear to have smoke coming out of them and some splutter across the sky.
As a tiny meteor enters the Earth’s atmosphere heat and light energy is created. A meteor’s composition ignites and interacts with Earth's atmosphere and its demise produces different colours. Meteors made of sodium produce orange/yellow light, iron will produce yellow, magnesium creates bluish/green, calcium makes violet and silicate meteors produce fiery red colours.
Other interesting objects to notice
At 22:30 Jupiter will be heading down in the South West, Saturn will shine in the South and Mars will look like a red emergency beacon towards the South East. ( Viewing from Ireland) Within the constellation Cassiopeia you may find a comet ! 21P /Giacobini- Zinner has brightened. With a bit of effort you and your telescope might be lucky enough to find it in a dark sky. This is a small comet but worth a look !!!
Read my previous blogs about the Perseids 21 Precious Perseids