Okay, so I know I just tweeted about this but I simply couldn’t resist doing my own little write up on the topic:
THERE’S A METEOR SHOWER THIS WEEK! The peak night will be Thursday night and into Friday “morning” (i.e. after midnight).
The shower we will be able to see is called the Perseid meteor shower because the meteors come from the direction of the visible constellation Perseus the Hero in the northeastern sky. What if I don’t know where the Perseus constellation is, am I out of luck?! Absolutely NOT!
Here’s the good news: The meteors in this shower are not only bright, but they’re also fast. Not so fast that you’ll miss them, but so fast that it’ll be super cool to watch them. They will radiate from a specific point in the sky, but you don’t even have to know were it is to view them, because they will be blatantly visible in all parts of the sky as they travel from said point. If you want to be a real go-getter, here is a page on how to find the point of origin. To keep the good news coming: the moon will be little more than a sliver that night, so the sky will not be overcome with light from a bright moon.
The possible bad news: depending on where you live, the level of “light pollution” may affect how many meteors you get to see. For example, if you live in or directly next to a city, a town, etc, that emits a glow visible into the sky, you will not be able to see as many meteors as someone who lives in rural Vermont, for example. The best way to combat this is to get to a point either as high as possible or as far away from civilization as possible.
I highly recommend wearing long pants, bringing bug spray, a hooded sweatshirt, a hat, and maybe even gloves. Here in Massachusetts, the humidity is supposed to die down by the end of the week and we may have a dry, brisk night on Thursday. Also, the advantage of bringing a hoodie instead of a blanket is that you have greater range of motion, so when you get all excited and try to point out meteors to your friends (which they’ll inevitably have already seen for themselves), you won’t be constricted by a cumbersome blanket.
That being said, enjoy Thursday night, bring some binoculars if you’d like, and if you’re into photography as I am, don’t forget your tripod and wireless/cable shutter release to get some beautiful star-swept shots of the sky!