One of the year’s most prolific meteor showers will hit its peak on Thursday night and into Friday morning, but you’ll have to contend with a few different obstacles to get the best possible view of the celestial show.
The Perseids meteor shower, which occurs annually when the Earth moves through the trail left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet, can lead to 60 to 100 meteors per hour at its peak.
Stargazers will have to do a few things to give themselves the maximum opportunity to see it, though.
That’s because the peak of the show happens to fall on the same night that the “Sturgeon Moon,” the final supermoon of 2022, will be in the night sky, meaning that the extra light from the moon could potentially wash out some of the fainter trails of the meteors as they move through the atmosphere.
Fortunately for those interested in spotting meteors, there are a few things you can do to see them.
First, the peak of the show will occur after midnight, meaning that the “radiant point” of the meteor shower will be higher in the eastern horizon and the moon will be lower in the western horizon, providing for darker skies.
According to forecast models, the skies should be partly-to-mostly clear on Thursday night and into Friday morning as a dome of high-pressure continues to exert its influence over the area.
Residents should also try to get away from city lights as much as possible to see the show, facing toward the east once they find dark enough skies to see the meteors fall.
Finally, officials at the Adler Planetarium are advising residents to give themselves plenty of time to adjust to the darkness. It can take the human eye 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, and once it does, you’ll likely be able to see several meteors per minute.
For those looking for an appetizer before the main celestial course, the planet Saturn will be just five degrees above the full moon on the horizon, according to the planetarium.
The meteor shower is named the “Perseids” because it appears to originate from the same spot in the night sky as the constellation Perseus, according to NASA.
The shower is also unique from other annual events, including the Geminids and the Quadrantids, because it occurs during the summer, when it’s warmer and generally more pleasant to sit outside. Those latter showers take place during December and January, respectively.
Finally, the reason that astronomers recommend looking toward the east to see the most meteors is because it’s that side of the horizon that is on the leading edge of the Earth’s rotation on its axis, and therefore catches more meteoroids than the opposite side.