"We expect to see meteor rates as high as a hundred per hour. The Perseids always put on a good show." -Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteroroid Environment Office.
Dubbed by scientists at NASA as “the best meteor shower of the year,” viewers of the Perseids could witness hundreds of shooting stars – if they are in the right place, at the right time.
The Perseid meteor shower peaks around Aug. 12, as Earth passes through a stream of debris from an old comet named Swift-Tuttle, which was named after the astronomers who discovered it in 1862.
Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society offers a bit of advice for amateur stargazers, who can experience the spectacular event right here in Darien – in a location with a dark sky, well away from city lights. Lundsford also recommends practicing plenty of patience.
“If you are serious about seeing meteors then get comfortable in a lounge chair,” Lundsford writes on the group’s website. “There will be times when no activity will appear for five minutes and then 10 meteors will suddenly appear in the same time span. …You need to get comfortable and watch as long as possible so that you may witness the peaks of activity along with the droughts.”
Meteor viewing planned at Cantigny Park
In conjunction with the Adler Planetarium, Cantigny Park at 1S151 Winfield Road in Wheaton will host a celebration of the Perseid Meteor Shower from 7:30 to 11 p.m. Sunday.
The family observing program will include excerpts from “Earth Moon & Sun” in Adler’s portable planetarium dome, hands-on family educational activities, telescope viewing and a scientific lecture by an Adler astronomer.
Registration is required by Aug. 10 for the program. To register and for information on admission and parking fees, click here.
Perseid Meteor Trivia:
- These meteors travel 37 miles per second.
- The best time to view will be after midnight on Aug. 12.
- The weather in northern Illinois, so far, is predicted to be mostly clear, so you should have a good view.
- The Perseid Meteors are cast-offs of the Swift-Tuttle comet, according to Space.com.
- The shower began on July 23 and will peak the night of Aug. 11-12.
- Look toward the Perseus constellation, which forms an inverted "Y" shape and is in the northeast.
- Some of the meteroids are as small as a grain of sand, but they have the kinetic energy of a nuclear bomb.
- If you see a very slow, bright object sailing across the sky, it's either a satellite or a space station.