Stay up late for an annual celestial treat

Mid-August is a time star-gazers look forward to because the Persied meteor shower peaks during that time. Some years, its a dazzling display, but this year, thanks to the Super Moon, it might not be as spectacular – but we can always hope. The meteors or shooting stars some may see are the effect of pieces of the Comet Swift-Tuttle disintegrating in Earth’s atmosphere. From around July 17 to August 24 the Earth passes through the tail of this comet. Sometimes, we pass through an exceptionally dense patch of the comet debris, leading to a higher number of meteors. The show peaks from August 11 to 13.

This year, though, there’s a catch. It’s easier to see shooting stars on a dark night. However, the light of the moon may disrupt that show. On Sunday, August 10, the moon was at its closest point to the earth, the so-called Super Moon which made the moon appear larger and brighter in the sky. By the middle of this week, the moon will be waxing and still present in the pre-dawn hours when the Perseids usually peak.

To get the best view, look anywhere in the sky from midnight until sunrise. It’s best if you camp out somewhere far away from artificial light. It takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness and since the meteors are sporadic, there’s no telling when or if you’ll see anything. At least it’ll be comfortable those nights with temperatures in the low 70s and upper 60s under clear skies. Happy viewing!

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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