Perseids Take 2: When and How to Best View the Meteor Shower
Monday night is the best night! (well, early Tuesday morning…)
I don’t know how it happened that I have had the distinct honor of being on the first 2-3 pages of the Google search “Perseids” at times during the past few weeks; perhaps it was because I linked to so many Nasa photos, which made me look more official than I really am. At any rate, because of all the hits, I feel a bit of an obligation to tell my readers how and when to best view the Perseids (now that they’re nearly here).
My dad is an amateur astronomer, and he tends to keep us in the know with these kinds of things. I think it will be easiest to simply copy part of his letter to us chillins. The location is Utah-centric, but it includes links that will calculate for you the sunrise/sunset where you are (I’m in England right now), the phases and rising/setting of the moon (for optimum darkness), and a weather link where you can punch in your location, etc. In other words, you should be able to tailor this to wherever you live..
HOW AND WHEN TO VIEW THE PERSEIDS
Here is your sometimes annual reminder of the most convenient meteor shower of the year (warm summer nights).
This year the moon will interfere with seeing all but the brightest meteors until a few hours before dawn on Monday and Tuesday.
EarthSky provides a link to a calculator that gives, for Salt Lake City, moon set on Monday Aug 11 at 1:17 AM. and on Tuesday Aug 12 at 2:07 AM. It gives astronomical twilight for those days at about 4:50 AM, so your best chance to see many meteors will be Monday between about 1:30 and 5:00 AM and Tuesday between about 2:30 and 5:00 AM. Those of you at a substantially different latitude than Salt Lake may want to enter your own location in the calculator.
NASA points out that the best opportunity to observe a rare but spectacular earth grazer is about 9:00 p.m. Monday evening, just as the earth turns into the debris stream that causes the shower. You may watch for an hour and see only a few, but it should be worth it. NASA also provides a sky map showing where to find Jupiter, the gibbous moon, and the bright red giant star Antares in the southern sky, forming an arc between Sagittarius and Scorpius. This should be a beautiful sight.
The weather prediction for Provo & vicinity on Monday & Tuesday is for partly cloudy skies.