The Perseid meteor shower is perhaps the most beloved meteor shower of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, and the 2016 prediction for an outburst should have many watching this year’s shower on the night of August 11-12. On that night, if the outburst occurs for you, and if the moon is down and the radiant point is high when it occurs, you might see 200 meteors per hour. But also remember, the Perseids build gradually to a peak beginning in early August. So don’t wait. Watch for Perseid meteors on the nights leading up to the shower, too, even as early as early August. Perseid meteors tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into midnight, and typically produce the most meteors in the wee hours before dawn. They radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus the Hero, but, as with all meteor shower radiant points, you don’t need to know Perseus to watch the shower; instead, the meteors appear in all parts of the sky. They are typically fast and bright meteors. They frequently leave persistent trains. Predicted peak morning in 2016: night of August 11-12. A waxing gibbous moon will be interfering with the show, but it’ll be gone from the sky by the predawn hours. For best results, watch after moonset and before dawn on the mornings of August 11 and 13. Watch all night on August 11-12 (evening of August 11, morning of August 12)
What to Bring
What to bring with you. You don’t need special equipment to watch a meteor shower. If you want to bring along equipment to make yourself more comfortable, consider a blanket or reclining lawn chair, a thermos with a hot drink, binoculars for gazing at the stars. Be sure to dress warmly enough, even in spring or summer, especially in the hours before dawn. Binoculars are fun to have, too. You won’t need them for watching the meteor shower, but, especially if you have a dark sky, you might not be able to resist pointing them at the starry sky.
By Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd in ASTRONOMY ESSENTIALS | SPACE
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