Skygazers are likely in for a spectacular show Tuesday night as the prolific Perseid meteor shower peaks.
But that’s if Mother Nature cooperates, as the National Weather Service is calling for partly to mostly cloudy skies throughout the region.
According to space.com, the colorful Perseid meteor shower occurs when Earth passes through the Comet Swift-Tuttle rubble, generating between 50 and 75 meteors per hour and up to 200 meteors per hour during an outburst year.
The best viewing is from a dark location, like a secluded beach, between a few hours before midnight and dawn, according to earthsky.org. But if you missed it last night or can’t view tonight, the peak will last through Wednesday night and overnight Thursday.
Although the moon is around its last quarter phase this year, since the Perseid meteors are bright, “a good percentage of them should be able to overcome the moonlight,” according to earthsky.org’s Bruce McClure.
“If fortune smiles upon you, the evening hours might offer you an earthgrazer – a looooong, slow, colorful meteor traveling horizontally across the evening sky,” McClure wrote. “Earthgrazer meteors are rare but memorable. Perseid earthgrazers appear before midnight, when the radiant point of the shower is close to the horizon.”
The celestial expert recommends placing yourself in the moon’s shadow. If you missed the peak, don’t fret, as the shower will continue for about 10 days afterward. “Starting on or around August 17, moon-free skies reign all night long,” McClure said.
If you can’t stargaze, the Virtual Telescope Project is hosting a live broadcast on its website.