Annual meteor shower to peak Sunday night

Posted on 10 August 2018 at 9:06am
Story image: Annual meteor shower to peak Sunday night

COLUMBIA - The Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend and viewing conditions should be spectacular in mid-Missouri.

This is typically one of the best meteor showers viewable from Missouri. With the moon in a new phase, the sky will remain exceptionally dark when between 70 and 150 meteors per hour may be seen, depending on one's viewing location.

The best viewing conditions can be found outside city limits, looking toward the northern horizon between the "Little Dipper" and the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus. Best viewing times will be between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Downloading a star-gazing mobile app can also add to the experience of meteor showers. These apps can identify many constellations and planets in the sky, many of which may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Other notable objects in the sky include bright, red Mars and a faint Saturn in the southern horizon after dusk.

High pressure over the Upper Mississippi River Valley will aid in clear, overnight skies and comfortable low temperatures for mid-Missouri in the middle 60s.

This annual meteor shower comes as the earth moves through the debris field of the comet Swift-Tuttle. These meteors entering the earth's atmosphere are typically only the size of a grain of sand and rarely reach the ground. According to Live Science, Swift-Tuttle is the largest known object to repeatedly pass close by earth.

While the earth passes through the comet's debris field every year, Swift-Tuttle itself is not expected to pass the earth again until 2126. The last time was in 1992.

(Editor's note: has updated this story to clarify the 2126 date.)