Perseids 2018: How To Enjoy The Best Meteor Shower Of The Year
Star gazers can catch a glimpse of the most astounding meteor shower of the year on Aug. 11 to 13: the Perseids.
The Perseid Meteor Shower
The annual spectacle is expected to be extra spectacular this year due to the moonless skies during its peak. Sky watching enthusiasts can enjoy an unencumbered view of cosmic fireballs streaking overhead.
"This year the moon will be near new moon, it will be a crescent, which means it will set before the Perseid show gets underway after midnight," Bill Cooke, a meteor expert from NASA, explains to Space.com. "The moon is very favorable for the Perseids this year, and that'll make the Perseids probably the best shower of 2018 for people who want to go out and view it."
The peak of the Perseid meteor shower is visible from Aug. 11 to 13, but Cooke says he's more inclined to favor the night of Aug. 12 to 13 for a better show. However, either night is projected to be a dazzling display of meteors.
During these nights, Earth will be passing through the densest part of the Comet Swift-Tuttle's path. This region is littered with the most dust and debris from the comet's orbit, which results in a high frequency of meteors visible in the nighttime sky.
There will be about 60 to 70 meteors per hour during the peak nights.
Cooke recommends taking in as much of the sky as possible to get the best Perseids experience. People are advised to find a dark spot in the suburbs or countryside. It takes a half an hour for the eyes to adjust to darkness, so patience is necessary.
Other Sky Events This August
While the Perseid meteor shower is likely the most awaited spectacle in August 2018, there are a few other notable events that sky-watching enthusiasts may enjoy.
According to National Geographic, one of the cosmic sights that's visible from Earth this month is what's dubbed as the "cosmic teapot" on Aug. 8. Located at the heart of the Sagittarius constellation, this stellar pattern is shaped distinctly like a slightly tipped teapot. It's visible using a telescope or even binoculars in areas without light pollution.
Also on Aug. 8, the glowing gas cloud known as Lagoon nebula in the Sagittarius constellation will also be visible using telescopes and binoculars.
A few days later on Aug. 11, a partial solar eclipse will occur. Those who want a glimpse should step outside for the maximum eclipse at 5:46 a.m ET. The phenomenon will last for 3.5 hours and will be seen from Canada, Greenland, northern Europe, and northeast Asia.