Saturday, August 10, 2013

Watch for the Perseid meteor shower this weekend

[UPDATE - 7:37 p.m. EDT] - Meteors showing up on this Ustream broadcast from Valladolid, Spain.

Enjoy a summer evening of sky watching this weekend as the annual Perseid meteor shower peaks Sunday night into Monday morning. Rates can get as high as 100 meteors per hour, with many fireballs visible in the night sky. Early Sunday evening, a waxing crescent moon will interfere slightly with this year's show, but it will have set by the time of the best viewing, just before dawn, Monday morning.

Perseid meteors come across the sky from all directions, a good time to lay back in your favorite lawn chair and look straight up into the dark sky. It is important to be far away from artificial lights, if possible, but not required. Your eyes can take up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so allow plenty of time for your eyes to “dark-adapt.”

The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet's debris. These bits of ice and dust -- most over 1,000 years old -- burn up in the Earth's atmosphere to create one of the best meteor showers of the year.

If cloud cover blocks your view, listen to the Perseid meteors by clicking here.

Schedule of Events

Saturday / 8:12 p.m. EDT – Sunset in Washington, D.C. area.

Saturday / 9:55 p.m. EDT – Moonset in Washington, D.C. area.

Saturday / 11:00 p.m. EDT - Join NASA in a live Web chat to watch the Perseids. NASA astronomer Bill Cooke and Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw from the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office at Marshall Space Flight Center will answer your questions.

Sunday / 8:11 p.m. EDT – Sunset in Washington, D.C. area.

Sunday / approximately 9:00 p.m. EDT - Live broadcast of the skies over NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. begins.

Sunday / 10:28 p.m. EDT – Moonset in Washington, D.C. area.

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