Expect a good show over the weekend, when dust particles from the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle burn up (or even explode) in our atmosphere
Widely regarded as the best meteor shower of the year, the Perseids will return to our skies this week. The peak activity from the shower is expected at the weekend, during the nights of 11-12 and 12-13 August. The chart shows the radiant of the meteors in the constellation Perseus at midnight on the second evening. Anything up to 60 or 70 meteors per hour will appear to streak across the sky from this point over the two nights. Occasionally, the shower can turn into an outburst when the hourly rate can double or even triple. Although that is not expected to happen this year, the viewing conditions are expected to be good because the Moon sets early in the evening. With the moonlight gone, many of the fainter Perseids will become visible too. The meteors themselves are dust particles from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last passed by Earth in 1992, and will next draw close in 2126. The dust that makes up the Perseids was once part of the comet’s tail and now trails along in its orbit. The Perseids are known for exploding meteors, called fireballs.