Perfect Viewing for a Meteor Shower - 08/12/13
Improving weather in West Michigan couldn't be better timed for the Perseid Meteor shower, easily one of the best (if not the best) annual meteor showers. Each year in August, our planet passes through the debris field eminating from the Comet Swift-Tuttle. As the dust and particles from the field encounter Earth's atmosphere, they create vivid displays streaking across the night sky. Astronomers say that when the Persied meteoroids slam into the atmosphere, they're moving at about 130,000 mph!
The meteor shower peaks tonight/tomorrow morning (Monday PM - Tuesday AM) as our planet travels through the most dense part of the debris stream. Up to 75 meteors per hour were noted by observers last night, and an even higher number is expected tonight. The show continues through the week, but the number of visible meteors is expected to slowly decline with each passing night. By the way, this particular meteor shower is known for producing more "fireballs" than other showers. A fireball is a very bright meteor, even as bright as the planet Venus.
The best time for viewing is late night/overnight, as the last vestiges of daylight are by then long gone from the western horizon. Of course, one needs clear skies for optimal viewing. Drier air moving into West Michigan late tonight should clear skies somewhat. But it looks like the best conditions will be from tomorrow night (Tuesday) through the end of the week, when skies will be crystal clear. You'll need a sweater for viewing on those nights however, because temperatures will be dipping into the 50s -- even the upper 40s by daybreak Wednesday and Thursday.