Northern Lights Now – All eyes are on the sky tonight, tomorrow night and Saturday night as the annual Perseid meteor shower peaks. This year should be particularly exciting with rates of shooting stars potentially as high as 180-200 per hour or about one every 20 seconds. The best time to watch the show is between midnight and sunrise. The smallest, dimmest streaks will be easier to see once the quarter moon sets just after midnight.
This shower happens every year as Earth travels through the dust and debris that comet Swift-Tuttle leaves behind. Each time that comet passes through Earth’s orbit it leaves a new ribbon of shooting star material. That trail gets pushed around in space by the gravity of Jupiter. Astronomers have models that track those ribbons over time. This year, three separate groups of debris converge, so instead of the normal 60-100 meteors per hour, there could be as many as 180-200.
Of course, you won’t see any shooting stars if it is cloudy. The following maps show expected viewing conditions over the next two nights. It looks great for the West, but if you are in the North East or Mississippi Valley you might want to consider going out tonight since it will be cloudy tomorrow night.
We’d love to see your pictures of shooting stars! Send them our way via twitter (@northLightAlert)