Come August, it’s time for Perseid meteor shower and this year viewers in America’s West Coat can expect the best of colourful shower in years, says NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
After midnight tonight (morning of August 11, 2015) and the following two mornings (August 12 and 13) are likely to be even better as the slender waning crescent moon won’t be rising until shortly before sunrise, so it won’t interfere with the shower, says NASA.
The Perseid meteor shower falls in the Northern Hemisphere due to its radiant point is far to the north on the sky’s dome, though fewer meteors can be seen from the Southern Hemisphere too.
The Perseids produce the most meteors in the dark hours before dawn and at its peak in the coming mornings in a dark and clear country sky, and you might see some 50 to 100 meteors per hour.
August’s Perseid meteor shower peaks just after midnight on Amavasya (Hindu calendar) or a moonless mid-August night. This year, a good number of meteors will be visible near Perseus every night from late July through August 24, in the familiar constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus in the northeast.
Soon after sunset, meteor shower will rise and the maximum will be seen at their peak around 4 a.m. Eastern Time or 1 a.m. Pacific time on the morning of August 13, when up to 100 meteors per hour may be visible from a dark sky, said NASA.
To begin with, after sunset find Jupiter low on the western horizon and Venus and Mercury will be near Jupiter. Venus can be seen before sunrise at the end of the month and the asteroid Juno will be visible near Mercury, but one needs a telescope to see it. Saturn will be visible a little higher in the southwestern sky around the midnight.
With telescope, one can track Pluto in the same area that it was last month, near Sagittarius in the south-southeast sky. This time Pluto can be seen for two nights and see its movement against the background stars, just as Clyde Tombaugh did when he discovered it in 1930, says NASA.
Another dwarf planet, Ceres, is not too far away from Pluto, in the constellation Sagittarius in the southeastern sky. At midnight the asteroid Pallas can be spotted in the constellation Hercules in the western sky.
Uranus and Neptune can be seen early in the morning in the eastern sky but one needs good binoculars to spot Uranus, which easier of the two to spot. Then, look for Neptune in the southeast sky but you have to switch to a telescope. Vesta is in the constellation Cetus, the whale in the eastern pre-dawn sky.
Coming to Mars, it will be visible an hour before sunrise, but one needs binoculars to see it, which will be visible now and till the end of 2016 to view as it rises every month and looms larger in the eyepiece.
To see if there is an astronomy event near you, visit NASA’s Night Sky Network but many US cities will be awake to witness the night sky and here are some places, options and spots from where you can see the Perseid Meteors.
Upper Manhattan’s Inwood Hill Park is an ideal place frequented by amateur astronomers as it is secluded and provides dark sky in a city filled with skyhigh buildings
and lights in the sky. Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field is another spot to view the Perseids.
In Los Angeles, to see Perseid Meteors, a visit to an observatory is a must. The Griffith Observatory will be open to the public and there will be public telescopes.
The Northern Virginia Astronomy Club, C.M. Crocket Park, and Sky Meadows State Park will host stargazing or Perseid Meteor viewing parties.
The George Observatory will be hosting the Perseid meteor shower but charges around $5.
The Boston University Observatory has a public open night every Wednesday. Or else visit the Museum of Science, which has an “Astronomy After Hours” event on Fridays.
The Denver Astronomical Society will hold a public night at Chamberlin Observatory, priced $3.
In Boonton, Morris County, the Sheep Hill Observatory will host a Perseid meteor shower event at 8:30 p.m.