The 2014 Perseid meteor shower will peak between August 10 and 13 – but August 10 is also the date of the year’s record Supermoon, which may take away some of the sheen of the annual meteor show in the sky.
The August 10 Super Moon is the “big one” of 2014 because the moon will be just 356 896 km from Earth.
The Perseids, which peak during mid-August, are considered to be the best meteor shower of the year.
With very fast and bright meteors, Perseids frequently leave long “wakes” of light and colour behind them as they streak through the Earth’s atmosphere. The Perseids are one of the most plentiful showers (50-100 meteors seen each hour) and occurs with warm summer nighttime weather, allowing sky watchers to easily view the shower, Nasa said.
Perseids are also known for their fireballs. Fireballs are larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak. This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of cometary material. Fireballs are also brighter, with magnitudes brighter than -3.
According to Nasa, the Perseids are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours, though at times it is possible to view meteors from this shower as early as 10pm.
Find an area well away from city or street lights. Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair. Lie flat on your back with your feet facing northeast and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors. Be patient – the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.
The Perseids have been observed for at least two millennia and are bits of dust and ice trailing the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years, according to Nasa. Their name derives from the fact that they appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus.
You want to do your meteor-watching earlier than usual in 2014 because of the full Supermoon.
(Photo: Jimmy Westlake)