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2014 Perseid meteor shower

Illustration image

Radiant of the Perseid metoer shower. Illustration credit: NASA

The 2014 Perseid meteor shower will peak between August 10 and August 13. A waning Gibbous Moon (the Moon's phase after a full moon) may make it harder for observers to see the shower. Despite this, astronomers suggest that observers try their luck to catch some Perseids before dawn on August 11, 12 and 13.

The Perseid meteor shower, one of the brighter meteor showers of the year, occur every August, peaking around August 9-13. Consisting of tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseids are named after the constellation, Perseus. This is because, their radiant or the direction of which the shower seems to come from lies in the same direction as Perseus. The constellation lies in the north-eastern part of the sky.

While the skies light up several time a year by other meteor showers , the Perseids are widely sought after by astronomers and stargazers alike. This is because at its peak, one can view 60 to a 100 meteors in an hour from a dark place.

Where to view

The Perseids can be viewed by observers in the Northern Hemisphere. If you are planning to view the shower, look between the radiant, which will be in the north-east part of the sky and the zenith (the point in sky directly above you). But don’t worry, you do not have to make any major astronomical calculations. Just lay a blanket on the ground, lie down and let your eyes wander around the sky - you will be bound to spot the shower sooner or later.

When to view

The best time to view the Perseids, or most other meteor showers is when the sky is the darkest. Most astronomers suggest that depending on the Moon’s phase, the best time to view meteor showers is right before dawn.

How to view

There isn’t a lot of skill involved in watching a meteor shower. Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for the Perseids:

  • Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
  • If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
  • Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you - viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.
  • Check the weather and moonrise and moonset timings for your location before you leave, and plan your viewing around it.

Location in the sky

The Perseids meteor shower is not visible at this time of year. The best date is around Aug 11, 2017, table below is for that date:
Perseids meteor shower for Washington DC
Fri 9:00 PM17°North-northeast10.8°
Fri 10:00 PM24°North-northeast14.9°
Fri 11:00 PM30°North-northeast20.3°
Midnight Fri-Sat35°Northeast26.6°
Sat 1:00 AM39°Northeast33.7°
Sat 2:00 AM42°Northeast41.4°
Sat 3:00 AM43°Northeast49.3°
Sat 4:00 AM41°Northeast57.2°
Sat 5:00 AM33°North-northeast64.3°
Note: times are for Aug 11, 2017.
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