Discover Nature: Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks

Aug 9, 2016

This week on Discover Nature, keep an eye to the sky in the predawn hours, as the Perseid meteor shower peaks.

Find a dark place in nature on a clear night this week, and watch the Perseid meteor shower peak.
Credit Missouri Department of Conservation

Each year, from mid-July to late-August as Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet Swift-Tuttle, debris from the comet falls into our atmosphere at some 130,000 miles per hour.

These so-called “shooting stars” will radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus the Hero, but you won’t need to know how to find the constellation to see the meteors – they’ll appear in all parts of the sky.

Astronomers predict peak activity this year on Thursday night into Friday morning – with a potential outburst of 200 meteors per hour – roughly twice the normal rate.  The Perseids will be especially active all week, though, so don’t worry if you miss the peak.

On a clear night, after the moon has set, find a spot to sit outside away from city lights, and watch the night sky come alive.

Missouri’s conservation areas open at 4 a.m., which allows plenty of time for predawn meteor viewing.  Find a conservation area near you, at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online atlas.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.