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Your Viewing Guide To The Best Meteor Shower In Years: 2018’s Perseids (Video)

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A composite image combines about 120 meteor images taken by the NASA All Sky Fireball Network station at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. on August 13, 2015. The majority of the meteors are Perseids. Danielle Moser of the Meteoroid Environment Office compiled the composite image.

Jane Houston Jones from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, explains about the 2018 Perseid meteor showers.

The Perseid meteor shower is the best of the year. It peaks on a moonless summer night -from 4 pm on the 12th until 4 am on the 13th Eastern Daylight Time. Because the new moon falls near the peak night, the days before and after the peak will also provide nice, dark skies. Your best window of observation is from a few hours after twilight until dawn, on the days surrounding the peak.

When it comes to meteor showers, we have these dazzling pictures in our minds of seeing streaks of light appear all over the sky: rapidly, brightly, and profusely. Yet in real life, many of us have had experiences that pale in comparison, where we might spend an entire hour outside only to see five (or even fewer) faint meteors. Unless conditions are really right, meteor showers can be a tremendous disappointment.

But during the peak of this year’s Perseids, from August 11-13, you’ll have a chance to see the best meteor shower in years. They should be rapid, bright, and relatively frequent. And most importantly, the skies should cooperate. Here’s the science of how it works, and what you should do to make the most of it.

Every time a comet or asteroid orbits close to the Sun, the combination of heat and tidal forces puts strains and stresses on that rocky, icy body. Volatile compounds boil or sublimate, fractures and fissures form on the main body, and tiny particles are kicked off of it. Dust and ions give rise to the famous two tails of a comet, which form a spectacular sight in their own right. But there’s a third phenomenon that arises alongside these more spectacular, but short-lasting, displays: tiny fragments break off of the orbiting comet or asteroid. Over time, they, like the comet or asteroid they were spawned from, will orbit the Sun along that same elliptical path.

Forbes, excerpt posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com, Aug. 3, 2018 

Video by NASA/JPL – Jane Houston Jones 

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