ATLANTA - This weekend you'll want to keep your eyes to the night sky as the Perseid meteor shower will be at it’s peak.
Earths’ orbit is currently passing through the debris field of the Swift-Tuttle comet.
This happens each year around late July or early August. Astronomy experts Jim Sowell, with Georgia Tech, says “tiny bits of debris the size of peas hit Earth’s atmosphere at a staggering 132,000 mph. They reach super-hot temperatures as the streak across the sky.”
That means we’ll see shooting stars and lots of them in the night sky throughout the weekend. There is also a new moon, which makes for perfect viewing.
“I think cloud cover will be in our favor. Not a lot of cloud cover expected,” said Severe Weather Team 2’s Katie Walls.
Earthsky's Bruce McClure said "it should be an awesome year to watch the Perseids!"
Meteor showers are named for the constellation out of which they appear to come, according to the American Meteor Society. Look for the constellation Perseus in the northeastern part of the sky. It's just to the left of the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters constellation.
In ancient Greek star lore, Perseus is the son of the god Zeus and the mortal Danae, according to Earthsky. It is said that the Perseid shower commemorates the time when Zeus visited Danae, the mother of Perseus, in a shower of gold.
No special equipment is needed to enjoy this nighttime spectacle, just a dark sky and some patience.
"Remember, your eyes can take as long as 20 minutes to truly adapt to the darkness of night," McClure said. "So, don’t rush the process."
Sunday and Monday mornings, around 3 a.m., will be the optimum times to see the meteor shower. Walls said we could see upwards of 50 meteors per hour.
The best viewing will be away from city lights.
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