The sky show of the summer is about to dart and hopefully flash across Michigan’s sky. Here’s what to expect this coming week.
The peak of the Perseids meteor shower is expected on the night of August 11 and the early morning of August 12, according Todd Slisher at Flint’s Longway Planetarium. But you can see some meteors now in the nights leading up to the peak of the meteor shower.
The first thing we need to see the Perseids is a clear sky. Tonight should have very clear skies across all of Michigan. Saturday night should be fairly clear,, and then we will have to wait until Tuesday night for clear skies again.
Fortunately the peak nights of August 11 and August 12 look like clear skies will dominate.
Now the one problem with viewing the Perseids this year- the moonlight. Moonlight will get less and less over the next few days as the moon goes to its last quarter on the peak night of August 11. Todd Slisher says the moon will be putting out 47 percent of its total possible light on August 11. The good news is the moon doesn’t rise until 12:30 a.m. that night.
Mike Murray at Delta College’s Planetarium says the very best time to see the Perseids is typically after midnight. That’s if you want to see large numbers of meteors, possibly tallying up to 50 to 60 meteors per hour. But with the moon coming up after midnight, he advises you may want to get out there early to look at a darker sky. With darkness coming earlier now, 10:30 p.m. to 12:45 a.m. may be the best time to see the meteor shower. That includes tonight, Saturday night and next Tuesday night and Wednesday night.
Here are more pieces of advice from Mike Murray, jam packed with info. Murray states, “The good news is that the Perseids are well known for bright meteors with glowing vapor trails, and those should pierce through the moonlight. The hourly rate of meteors tends to pick up after midnight because that’s when our part of the earth turns into the oncoming stream of particles left behind by the comet, but some observers like to start watching at 11pm to catch what are called “earth grazers”. These can be exceptionally long meteor streaks because they are scraping the outer atmosphere at a shallow angle, before we’ve turned more directly into the stream. They are few and far between but spectacular if you catch a bright one!”
While the meteors technically emerge from the northeastern sky, all experts agree the best way to view them is to lie on your back flat on the ground and look straight up. Of course you will want to be in the darkest area possible.
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