One of summer’s most spectacular shows comes courtesy of a comet – the Swift-Tuttle comet, which was discovered in 1862.
Every August, Earth travels through a belt of leftover debris vented from the Swift-Tuttle comet, resulting in the Perseid meteor shower that puts on a fiery display in the night sky. And while this year that display might be a little harder to see than in past years, Chicago astronomer Joe Guzman says it’s still worth getting out there and looking up.
“The brighter ones will overcome the urban light pollution quite easily and all you need are your eyes and a comfy spot away from direct glare. No telescopes or binoculars are required, but a darker environment is preferred for the fainter meteors,” Guzman advised.
Guzman said a near full moon this year will make it tough to see many of the meteors, limiting the shower to only the brightest grains for urban sky watchers.
“The best time to catch meteors is after 12 a.m., where the Earth is facing open space and Perseus radiant is at its highest, but meteors are unpredictable and may appear soon after twilight,” Guzman said. “Some say peak activity will occur at 9 p.m. this year – perfect for younger astronomers with an early bedtime.”