August Perseid Meteor Shower Has Long Legacy, Bright Future
The summer's best meteor shower will peak next weekend on August 12 and 13, 2012. Even though the nights leading up to the Perseids meteor shower peak will be hampered by a waning full moon, they will still be easily seen by people on Earth.
For the 2012 Perseids meteor shower, a waning half moon will set darker skies each night following the peak of the shower. The Perseids meteor shower will be viewable all over the world. The major determining factor on where a good place is to watch the Perseids meteor shower will be determined by the viewer's local cloud cover.
NASA says that the Perseids have been observed for about 2,000 years. The source of the annual meteor shower is the debris trail left behind comet Swift-Tuttle. Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet's debris. These bits of ice and dust burn up in the Earth's atmosphere.
Most of the Perseid meteors that we observe now were ejected from Swift-Tuttle about 1,000 years ago. Marshall’s meteor camera network captured some of the meteors or "shooting stars" during the peak.
You can tell if a meteor belongs to a particular shower by tracing back its path to see if it originates near a specific point in the sky, called the radiant. The constellation in which the radiant is located gives the shower its name, and in this case, Perseids appear to come from a point in the constellation Perseus.(Source)
CREDIT: Jeff Berkes
Major Meteor Showers visible during the night where the expected Zenith Hourly Rate (ZHR) will be 10 or more, or where the rate may be variable. Since more meteors are always seen after midnight, these dates are the best mornings to observe.
CREDIT: Geoff Gaherty