Washington, Aug 11 (IANS) Make plans now to stay up late or set the alarm to see a cosmic display of “shooting stars” light up the night sky on Friday-Saturday night.
Known for its fast and bright meteors, the annual Perseid meteor shower is anticipated to peak on the night of August 11-12, NASA said in a statement.
In India, it will be seen between Friday-Saturday between 11:00 p.m. and 04:30 a.m., International Business Times reported.
To watch the meteor shower, the best way is to get out of the city, away from dazzling electrical lights, the report said.
The Perseids show up every year in August when Earth ventures through trails of debris left behind by an ancient comet. This year, the Earth may be in for a closer encounter than usual with the comet trails that result in meteor shower, setting the stage for a spectacular display.
“Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double the normal rates on the night of August 11-12,” said Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour,” Cooke said.
An outburst is a meteor shower with more meteors than usual. The last Perseid outburst occurred in 2009.
Every Perseid meteor is a tiny piece of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years. Each swing through the inner solar system can leave trillions of small particles in its wake.
When the Earth crosses paths with Swift-Tuttle’s debris, specks of comet-stuff hit the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate in flashes of light.
These meteors are called Perseids because they seem to fly out of the constellation Perseus.
The best way to see the Perseids is to go outside between midnight and dawn on the morning of August 12.
Allow about 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. Lie on your back and look straight up. Increased activity may also be seen on August 12-13.
For stargazers experiencing cloudy or light-polluted skies, a live broadcast of the Perseid meteor shower will be available via Ustream overnight on August 11-12 and Aug. 12-13, beginning at 10 p.m. EDT.
The Perseids pose no danger to the Earth. Most burn up 80 km above our planet. But an outburst could mean trouble for spacecraft, NASA said.