SEATTLE — The Perseid Meteor Shower is set to light up the night sky this weekend. But living in the Northwest means that many local elements are potentially conspiring against our view, including overcast skies, a bright moon, and smoke from surrounding wildfires.
KIRO 7 Chief Meteorologist Morgan Palmer says clouds will be an issue for some locations on Friday and Saturday nights, though some breaks could allow for viewing.
However, he says the best viewing time is likely to be right at the peak of the meteor shower -- late Sunday night through the pre-dawn hours of Monday (about 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.). Skies will be clearing and the moon shouldn't be a major distraction either.
Any location could see meteors streaking across the sky, but the best places to be are in areas away from city lights like the mountains or rural areas.
But don’t just peak up quickly and then go home. Let your eyes adjust to the dark for about 30 minutes to get the fullest experience.
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This year you’ll be able to see up to 60-80 meteors per hour — for about one meteor per minute — up from last year’s rate of 40-50 (in case anyone is counting). Along with the showers, there’s also a chance stargazers will catch a view of the Milky Way stretching from the south, along with Saturn and Mars. Telling which is which shouldn’t be an issue.
The Perseid Meteor Shower is caused by the dust and debris trailing the Swift-Tuttle comet, which orbits the sun approximately every 133 years. The comet is the largest object known to repeatedly careen by Earth, with a nucleus of 16 miles wide. Since the Earth passes through that trail of comet detritus every year, we get a pretty little show.
The meteors strike our atmosphere at around 134,000 miles per hour and create vivid streaks of light when they burn up. When one makes it all the way down to the ground without burning up, they become known as “meteorites.”
You won’t have to worry about one bonking you on the head — most of the meteors in the Perseid shower are far too small for that.
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