Look to the night sky! Perseid meteor shower arrives this week

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It’s that time of year again! On August 12, the Perseid meteor will hold its annual showing in the night sky. According to NASA scientist Bill Cooke, there should be twice the amount of meteors than in years past. Also the moon will not be in full phase making the meteors much more visible without any moonlight to wash out the night sky.

Every year on August 12, the earth passes through a debris field left by the “dirty” comet Swift-Tuttle, which passed through our solar system in 1610. The debris left by this comet has been hovering in this particular position in space. The reason these meteor showers are called the “Perseids” because they have a tendency to radiate from the constellation of Perseus, which is located in the northeast portion of the sky.

For the most part, the meteors will be quick, greenish streaks in the sky, and occasionally a fire ball or two. With a little luck, there may be a bolide that will sneak in there as well. A bolide, in other words, is an exploding meteor. Sometimes the bigger meteors will break up as they make their plunge through the earth’s atmosphere.

What makes this meteor shower special is that there is no need for binoculars or telescopes to view the spectacle. All that is needed is the naked eye.

The best place to view the shower is in an area with little to no light pollution. Viewing the shower in an urban area will actually drown out 80 to 90 percent of the meteors making it a very dull experience. The best thing to do is head out to any outlying area, whether it is a nearby mountain or the desert. As long as there is very little light pollution, this will truly be a sight to behold.

Check out the San Diego Astronomy Association for more information, including the history of astronomy in San Diego and where to watch the night sky with minimal light pollution.

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