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

Help for algae issue: Lake O reservoir wins U.S. Senate approval
Help for algae issue: Lake O reservoir wins U.S. Senate approval

A reservoir to hold Lake Okeechobee overflow and spare northern estuaries from harmful discharges won approval in the U.S. Senate this week with the passage of a sweeping water act. It was the final step for the legislation, known as America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, before heading to President Trump’s desk for signature. The...
Red tide tests show lower concentrations in Palm Beach County
Red tide tests show lower concentrations in Palm Beach County

New test results for Karenia Brevis in Palm Beach County show lower concentrations from the Palm Beach Inlet to Boca Raton. The results, released Wednesday, were from samples taken Tuesday, according to the state’s red tide status map. All of the samples showed low levels of the algae that shut down beaches last week and forced lifeguards to...
Hurricane Michael: Videos, photos show devastation along Florida Panhandle
Hurricane Michael: Videos, photos show devastation along Florida Panhandle

Hurricane Michael battered Florida's Panhandle on Wednesday, bringing with it destructive 155 mph winds and life-threatening storm surge. Its winds ripped apart homes, and feet of storm surge left homes underwater. Photos and video from the Panama City area show the path of destruction left behind by the near-Category 5 storm. >> Read...
Hurricane Michael: Trump likely to visit Florida, Georgia next week to survey storm damage
Hurricane Michael: Trump likely to visit Florida, Georgia next week to survey storm damage

President Donald Trump is likely to visit storm-ravaged areas of Florida and Georgia hit by Hurricane Michael early next week, White House officials told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday. The president spoke with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey during the flight to receive updates on the storm, which barreled into...
Historic Hurricane Michael: How it stacks up to other U.S., Florida storms
Historic Hurricane Michael: How it stacks up to other U.S., Florida storms

Even as the storm still rages, Hurricane Michael is already making its mark on history. Hurricane Michael made landfall Wednesday on the Florida Panhandle with winds of 155 miles per hour. A hurricane reaches Category 5 status when winds reach 157 miles per hour. Only a few storms have made landfall in the United States stronger...
More Stories