This weekend, watch for the Perseid Meteor Shower


Meteor showers are named after the constellation of stars the meteors radiate from. The display of meteors will light up the sky between August 11 and 13.

The Perseid shower occurs each year as the Earth barrels through dusty debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle. Viewing will be enhanced by the fact that the moon will not be present.

"The moonless sky this year means the viewing will be excellent", says Diana Hannikaine, Observing Editor with Sky & Telescope magazine. It is also advised to allow your night vision to adjust to the dark before giving up, this may take between 20-30 minutes.

The summertime meteor shower, the Perseid, is set to peak August 11, 12 and 13. The Perseids are rich in fireballs, so the show should be even better. "Relax, be patient, and let your eyes adapt to the darkness".

Homebodies can head out to West Seattle's Alki and see the show with the Seattle skyline in view, or go to Gas Works Park for lakeside vistas.

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The comet Swift-Tuttle orbits the sun once every 133 years, so every August, the Earth passes through the comet's debris field.

The Perseids get their name from Perseus, the constellation that they appear to come out of.

Saturn and Mars will also be in view until about 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., respectively. Note that if the skies are too cloudy or if it's raining, the event will be cancelled. Star Chart and Sky Map are two of the best, and both use your phone's sensors to give you a virtual overview of the night sky. "Most people should be able so see a handful an hour". Greg Scheiderer of the Seattle Astronomical Society recommends finding the darkest place possible for the best experience, although the show will likely still be visible from your front porch, deck, or city rooftop. The show gets better further from the lights. Lie on your back and look straight up. Because of this, meteor rates could be as high as 200 per hour.

Some meteors only have faint, quick streaks.