NASA Is Calling Tonight's Meteor Shower The Best Of The Year
If you're going to check out one meteor shower this year, NASA thinks the one occurring tonight (and early tomorrow) may give you the "most bang for your buck."
To get in on Perseid—potentially this year's most dazzling natural light show—simply pull up a lawn chair during the wee hours, and look up at the clear night sky to spot up to 100 meteors per hour and seven major planets. It's really going to be that easy, this time around—even if you're in a big city.
Fortunately for city dwellers, the moon will be starting a new cycle and completely blacked out tonight, meaning the showers will be viewable even from bright urban cores. To catch them at their peak, look eastward between 11 p.m. eastern time Wednesday through dawn on Thursday morning.
And, what exactly will you be viewing?
“Every year, the dust particles from the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet pass the Earth orbit and burn in our atmosphere (about 70 miles above us) from mid-July to the end of August,” explained American Meteor Society's Vincent Perlerin. "The meteors are in fact glowing columns of air resulting from the burn of these particles....When the dust and ice hits our atmosphere at around 37 miles per second, they disintegrate high up in the atmosphere after making a brilliant flash of light. Most of these particles are the size of sand grains, while a few are as big as peas. They can streak across the sky in a flash, or persist for several seconds before vanishing.”
The best part is, you won't even need any special equipment—though an ice-cold brew might enhance the chill, nature-centric experience. Just sit back and enjoy the view of the world's most dazzling, naturally-occurring screensaver.
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