By Jim Brace-Thompson
As our good Mother Earth orbits its Sun, we come into regular collision courses with leftover debris from comets, asteroids, and other residents of our solar system that float about in our general neighborhood. Some of these debris clouds have resulted in annual meteor showers streaking through the atmosphere, and one good show is coming up soon!
The Perseids, associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, is said to be among the most prolific of all annual meteor showers. The shower is called the Perseids because, to the casual observer, the meteor streaks seem to originate from the constellation Perseus. The debris stream known as “the Perseid cloud” is composed of particles left behind by Swift-Tuttle during its 133-year orbit around the Sun.
Although usually starting in mid to late July, the shower peaks in early August, with something like 45 to 90 meteor streaks per hour across the night sky. The best time for viewing is said to be during pre-dawn hours, from midnight to sunrise. This year, the shower should peak with a maximum number of streaks during the pre-dawn hours of August 12, 2021, but be on the lookout on August 11 and 13, as well.
It’s almost always a fine show, even in light-polluted skies. Watch for it!
Author: Jim Brace-Thompson
Jim began and oversees the AFMS Badge Program for kids and has been inducted into the National Rockhound & Lapidary Hall of Fame within their Education Category.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.