Check this weekend’s night sky for Perseid meteor shower fireballs


A special cosmic gift will add to this weekend’s acclaimed Perseid meteor shower, which is considered one of the most reliable and robust celestial shows of the year.

The attention-hogging moon will be just past new, meaning less lunar light pollution to obscure the Perseids — an omission that won’t happen again during this shower until 2021.

Saturday after 11 p.m. through Sunday morning, and again Sunday night through early Monday will be the best viewing times for the shower named for Perseus, a mythical monster slayer and Greek hero.

The Perseids are generally active from late July through Aug. 24, but peak Saturday through Monday.

RELATED: Why the 2018 hurricane forecast changed so drastically

The shower gets going in South Florida as the constellation Perseus comes up over the northeastern horizon, which is about 11 p.m., said J. Kelly Beatty, senior editor for Sky and Telescope.

“The very early ones are skimming through the atmosphere and can create really dramatic fireballs,” Beatty said. “If you are looking from a very dark site, like the middle of the Everglades, you might see one every minute, but if not, it might be one every 10 to 15 minutes.”

The best viewing conditions — generally a dark area away from the city lights — can be hard to come by in South Florida, but a drive to Lake Okeechobee or even a stroll on the beach may suffice. Also, the website Slooh will live webcast the shower to its members beginning at 5 p.m. Sunday. Memberships are available at Slooh.com.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

The Perseid shower is considered runner-up in quantity and brilliance only to the Geminid shower in December, and is known for being fairly rich in fireballs. Fireballs are brighter than the planet Venus.

A NASA analysis of all-sky images taken from 2008 to 2013 shows that the Perseids deliver more bright meteors than any other annual meteor shower, according to Sky & Telescope.

Debris from the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle is the source of the Perseids. The comet orbits the sun in a large cigar-shaped motion, with Earth passing through the comet rubble every year in mid-August.

STORM 2018: Hurricane Central

The comet sheds debris that can range from the size of a pinhead to a half-dollar.

“The moonless sky this year means the viewing will be excellent, and the shower’s predicted peak is timed especially well for North America,” said Sky & Telescope Observing Editor Diana Hannikainen in a press release. “Under a very dark sky, you might see up to one Perseid per minute late on Sunday night or after midnight on Monday morning.”

Whether South Florida’s skies will cooperate with viewing the Perseids is in question.

After a bout of Saharan air dried out the atmosphere mid-week, showers were expected to return Friday afternoon and extend through the weekend in a more typical summer pattern.

The National Weather Service in Miami is forecasting a 30 percent chance of rains today and tonight for much of Palm Beach County with a daytime high temperature of 91. The heat index, or “feels like” temperature could hit 103 today.

Sunday also has a 30 percent chance of showers with the possibility of thunderstorms. The high temperature Sunday should be in the high 80s to low 90s.

If you haven’t yet, join Kim on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Weather

OCEARCH now tracking gators: Meet Sweet Audrey Laine

Subtropical Storm Ernesto struggles to life as fifth storm of season
Subtropical Storm Ernesto struggles to life as fifth storm of season

Subtropical Storm Ernesto formed Wednesday, struggling to spin up in the Central Atlantic where it is no threat to the U.S. The system, which could experience minimal strengthening while it remains over warm water, is expected to top out with 50 mph winds in the next two days before merging with a larger low pressure system. A subtropical storm has...
Social media posts on red tide and blue-green algae have law enforcement on alert
Social media posts on red tide and blue-green algae have law enforcement on alert

A sign posted by Martin County Health Department warns to avoid contact with blue-green algae near the Port Mayaca locks on June 12, 2018. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post) A stream of online vitriol about Florida’s  toxic algae disaster has piqued the interest of law enforcement, which is monitoring...
JUST IN: Subtropical Storm Ernesto forms
JUST IN: Subtropical Storm Ernesto forms

GOES East image of Subtropical depression five , which could become Ernesto today. UPDATE: Subtropical Storm Ernesto has formed in the Central Atlantic Ocean. The storm is the 5th named system of the season and has formed in a similar area to its predecessor, Tropical Storm Debby. A history of the six prior #Ernesto incarnations&hellip...
The ‘toxic’ algae issue: Social media ire has law enforcement on alert
The ‘toxic’ algae issue: Social media ire has law enforcement on alert

A stream of online vitriol about Florida’s toxic algae disaster has piqued the interest of law enforcement, which is monitoring posts following comments about blowing up the Herbert Hoover Dike, vandalizing cars and “hanging state politicians.” Whether the internet provocations are just disgruntled grousing or credible...
More Stories