Great balls of fire: Why you should watch the sky this weekend


Most sky watchers are already looking forward to the upcoming Perseid meteor shower display, which is expected to peak on August 12, especially since reports of it being "the brightest shower in recorded human history" have surfaced, but the National Aeronautics and Space Administration begs to disagree. This rumour was breathed to life by an article claiming the date to witness "the brightest shower in recorded human history", with August's shooting stars in the company of illuminating bright full moon. However, one thing is for sure: the 2017 Perseid meteor shower will not bring any of them closer to that dream.

The International Meteor Organization said that watching before 11 p.m. when the moon rises will give the best chance of seeing the meteors, although they are more sparse in those earlier hours, Newsweek reported.

The meteors we'll see this weekend are the result of Earth's passage through debris left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet. The moon will be ¾ full which means the bright light it emits will drown out some of the visible meteors streaking across our skies.

Visibility should still be very good the following night (12-13) but it is Friday night into Saturday morning at which it will be best.

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"The Perseid meteor shower is the most famous of all the meteor showers, providing an opportunity for non-enthusiasts to see a meteor".

The shower will be best seen from the Northern Hemisphere, so the United Kingdom is in for a show if you look to the north-eastern part of the sky.

To see them best, find an area well away from city or street lights and set up where you're shadowed from the moon's glare. "Previous year also saw an outburst of just over 200 meteors per hour". The peak of the meteor shower will happen, when we pass through the most crowded, dustiest section of the tail. Typical rates of Perseids are about 80 meteors an hour, but in outburst years (such as in 2016) the rate can be between 150-200 meteors an hour. The comet only orbits the sun every 133 years but when it does it leaves a trail of dust and small debris behind it. To put that in perspective, if you traveled from Omaha to Lincoln at the speed of a meteor you'd arrive in 1.5 seconds. Every meteor we see is actually a tiny piece of the comet burning up as it strikes the Earth's atmosphere.