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Watch for Perseid Meteor Shower Sunday

The annual Perseid Meteor shower peak occurs Sunday, Aug 13, at 1:58 am MDT.
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This photo taken near Cranbrook shows a meteor streaking through the constellation Aquila.

The annual Perseid Meteor shower peak occurs Sunday, Aug 13, at 1:58 am MDT.

The evenings of Saturday night, Aug. 12, and Sunday morning, Aug. 13, are best at a possible 100 meteors/hr. The next evening Monday Aug 13/14 should have about 50 meteors/hr.

The dim crescent Moon (seven per cent lit) doesn’t rise until 3 am, so skies will be dark. Hopefully we won’t have forest-fire smoke to hide it. Even so, we should still be able to see meteors overhead.

Three years ago the Perseids were active at over 120 meteors per hour, or two per minute.

Best times for viewing would be Sunday morning around 3 to 4 am (the final dark hour before dawn) when the constellation Perseus rises highest in the sky. To see the most meteors, go out of town to a dark location. Rates are estimated to be about 100 meteors per hour (two per minute) once Perseus rises in the East.

Off-Peak: After the peak, the rates decrease by 50 per cent each night. It takes the Earth a week to pass through the ice and dust trail from comet Swift-Tuttle. The shower will gradually taper off and end by Aug. 24.

This photo taken near Cranbrook shows a meteor streaking through the constellation Aquila.

Where to look? The composite photos above show the entire sky, and all the meteors that fell on 11 and 12 Aug 2015, over Cranbrook; taken by our college meteor camera.

Perseus is the constellation to the Northeast (middle left side of the photo). Meteors by Perseus there have short trails and are fast, hard to see. Meteors seen straight overhead going through Cygnus have long slower trails, and usually it is clearer above if there is smoke haze around. There are slightly more meteors seen high to the West around Hercules and above the handle of the big dipper; since the meteor trails are longer there, and the meteors skim lower in a greater volume of atmosphere. I aim my cameras where it’s darkest, away from the Moon or city streetlight glow.

Some of the meteors seen will be from the k-Cygnids running from August 3–25. These peak on August 18 at 3 meteors per hour, when the skies will be dark, no Moon. They usually show a number of slow falling fireballs moving at 25km/second. Cygnus the Swan will be directly overhead at midnight.

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The composite photos above show the entire sky, and all the meteors that fell on 11 and 12 Aug 2015 over Cranbrook; taken by the College of the Rockies meteor camera.


About the Author: Black Press Media Staff

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