It’s prime time for the Perseid meteor shower

August 11, 2019

It’s an annual show that gets people up during the early morning hours to look up and make a wish or two. The Perseid meteor shower is underway, with Monday and Tuesday mornings the best times to see the shooting stars.

“It’s worth taking a look the next two nights, into the next two mornings, because that is the peak of the Perseids” said WTOP space contributor Greg Redfern.

Once a year, the earth’s orbit and debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet intercept, resulting in a show during the night skies for “earthlings,” Redfern said.

“Our atmosphere becomes like a big vacuum cleaner, sucking up all this debris, and we see these wonderful shooting star displays that we call meteor showers,” he said.

Redfern said the show might not be as impressive as other years because of the moon.

“That pesky moon is approaching full, so it is drowning a lot out the dimmer meteors,” he said.

Peak viewing times for the shower, according to Redfern, will be Monday morning at around 3:30 a.m. and Tuesday at around 4 a.m. Storm Team4 Meteorologist Matt Ritter said the best chance for clear skies will be Monday morning.

To take in a show like this, Redfern recommends making an early morning outing to an area far from lights.

“Get out there a couple hours before dawn and just lay back and look straight up in the sky, and you kind of want to let your eyes roam and don’t focus on any one particular area,” Redfern said.

He added that going out before dawn is best because there will be less interference from the full moon. Also, setting aside a longer viewing window will allow your eyes time to acclimate to the dark.

If conditions are right and you find the right spot, Redfern said it may be possible to see close to 50 shooting stars in an hour.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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