Coming this weekend: The most spectacular meteor shower of the year

"The average particle size is that of large sand grain but some small pea gravel-size meteors can cause bright fireballs that light up the sky and ground", he continued.

In August 2016, the shower produced about 150 meteors an hour and in 2009, the estimated peak was about 173 but some of the fainter meteors could have been washed out by Moonlight.

The comet that left the Perseid meteor stream is a piece of dirty ice about 26km in diameter called 109P/Swift-Tuttle. But, keep your head up and eye to the sky, you might catch a glimpse of a few shooting stars in the days leading up to or days following the peak.

When is the best time to see them?

While the comet may only come back every 125 years, the actual debris field fills the entire loop of the orbit of the comet, he explained.

This year's Perseid meteor shower will be highly visible both Saturday and Sunday night, giving watchers ample opportunity to spot plenty of shooting stars. The best time to view is after midnight each night. "Comets and asteroids leave tiny bits of themselves in the orbital path that they take around the sun". Unfortunately, there's always the chance that bad weather like fog or rain will create unfavorable viewing conditions.

Twarog warns that the meteors cross the sky fairly quickly.

"They are basically rocks", he said.

But the most spectacular long-lasting meteors, known as "Earthgrazers", can be seen when the radiant is still low above the horizon.

While this weekend is the peak, Twarog predicts the showers will last through August 24.

The ideal time for meteor-spotting is when the sky is at its darkest; between 1am and the onset of dawn twilight. The August shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus because the meteors appear to originate there.

While stars and star clusters are Twarog's specialty, he said he appreciates how the meteor showers light up the summer sky and anyone can appreciate the celestial wonder.

Vanessa Coleman

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