The Perseid Meteor Shower will light up the night sky this week.
The annual shower’s peak will be Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Tennessee Tech Physics Department Chair Dr. Steve Robinson said sky gazers will need to be patient.
“Basically take a blanket or a chair,” Robinson said. “Just sit there and watch and you may see several per hour. It’s not going to be like you see in the movies where they are just showering down every few seconds. You’re only going to see a few every hour basically.”
Robinson said there are many meteor showers each year, but the Perseids are well-known because it is one of the brightest. He said if the skies are clear, the best time to see meteors will be around 2 a.m. Wednesday.
“This one is one of the brighter ones,” Robinson said. “One of the more noticeable ones. That basically means there is a lot of material hanging around in space and the Earth passes through this comet tail, basically. Because there’s a lot of stuff in that trail, then the meteors are just more noticeable.”
The meteor shower is active from July 14 to August 24 this year. Robinson said the Perseids are named after the constellation from which they appear to come.
“You’re going to have to look toward the constellation Perseus, which will be rising up in the eastern part of the sky,” Robinson said. “Actually you can see meteors in any part of the sky, but the reason it’s called the Perseids is because what’s called the radiant of the meteor shower, the point they all seem to be coming from, is in the constellation Perseus. So, looking more towards that part of the sky would probably help.”
The Perseid meteors are small specks of ice and dust that come from the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Robinson said the planet sees many meteor showers each year.
“They happen when the Earth’s orbit crosses the path of a comet,” Robinson said. “That only happens once a year.”