Perseid meteor shower peak begins tonight – NBC2 News

While all eyes are understandably on the tropics Wednesday evening while we monitor Tropical Storm Fred, take a moment tonight and gaze toward the night sky for the peak of the Perseid meteor shower after NBC2 News at 11 pm!

The Perseids are widely considered to be one of the best meteor showers for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere, and during the shower’s peak that continues through August 13, more than 50 meteors can be visible per hour if you’re in the right place at the right time. 

To give yourself the best chance of seeing a shooting star or two you’ll want to take a drive and give yourself some time. Meteor showers are best viewed away from city lights in rural areas under a crystal clear sky. 

In Southwest Florida, that would be mainly areas east of I-75 in inland Collier, inland Lee, inland Charlotte, Hendry, DeSoto, and Glades counties after the leftover cloud cover from our afternoon storms fades away. Though meteors can from time to time be seen in urban and suburban settings, the density of buildings and ambient light from the surrounding area can make it more difficult. 

And remember if it’s cloudy outside your chances of seeing anything are very low.   

Meteor showers from our perspective on Earth have what’s known as a radiant point. It’s the region of the sky where meteors have the appearance of coming from when a shower is occurring. This meteor shower will appear to be coming out of the northeast. 

So, if you look in that direction, you’ll boost your odds of seeing one fly by.

If you live along one of our beaches though you might see a streak or two move away from shore when looking out over the water at night. When you look northeast toward the shower’s radiant point from our area’s coastline you’ll have to contest with the lights of the urbanized areas along US 41 and I-75 which can make it a little tougher to pick them out.

Night owls and very early risers will have the best chance of spotting a meteor. Typically viewing is best after midnight and into the pre-dawn hours early in the morning. 

You’ll maximize your chances as well if once you get to a dark area to sit outside without any lights to allow your eyes to acclimate to the area.

The big idea with meteor showers is that they are caused when Earth’s orbit around the Sun happens to pass through the debris trailing behind a distant comet. When comets fly through space they don’t do so as solid chunks of rock. 

Instead, little fragments get left in their wake (similar to a trail of cookie crumbs hitting the floor when you walk across the living room with a cookie). When our planet crosses through that debris path from the comet, little bits and pieces burn up as they enter our atmosphere causing the flash or streak we see during the shower.

Tonight’s show is compliments of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. It was discovered back in the mid-1800s, and though it takes 133 years to orbit the Sun, each summer when Earth moves through the debris field behind it we get treated to the Perseids.  

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