You will have to stay up late to see the Perseids at their peak; the best viewing comes from midnight to dawn, particularly after the half-full moon sets at 1 a.m. on Monday, says Astronomy magazine’s Michael Bakich. But they should appear at night during the week before and after the peak as well.
Put out the lawn chair, set the alarm and maybe bring something to wet your whistle while you gaze into the nighttime sky — the year’s best shooting star show has started.
August’s annual Perseids meteor shower peaks Sunday and Monday, promising perhaps 70 meteors an hour those evenings.
“The Perseids are the good ones,” says meteorite expert Bill Cooke of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
The Perseids take their name from their apparent origin in the constellation Perseus, the hero of ancient Greek myth born from a shower of heavenly gold. Known for producing fireballs that might streak across a third of the sky, they owe their brilliance to the speed — nearly 134,000 mph — with which they smack into the upper atmosphere. “It’s also because of the size of the meteors,” Cooke says. The dust grains are about one-fifth of an inch across and burn nicely as they zip overhead.