The Perseid Meteor Shower is one of the most anticipated celestial events in the Northern Hemisphere. Though the shooting stars are already lighting up the skies in small numbers, the pace will accelerate around mid-August, making them easy to view without a telescope. This year, the best time to see nature’s annual firework display will be on August 12 and 13 – during the last two days of Sat Nam Fest Berkshires!
Perseids, named after the constellation Perseus from which they appear to emanate, are the debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle as it swings by Earth every 133 years. Though the comet, the largest solar system body to pass Earth repeatedly, will not be coming close to our planet until 2126, it has left behind enough dust from its last visit in 1992. As the Earth orbits around the sun, it encounters the debris at around the same time every August. Though the Perseid Meteor Shower can be seen worldwide, thanks to the path of Swift-Tuttle’s orbit, it is best visible from the Northern Hemisphere.
In addition to being the most reliable of the 64 meteor showers that are witnessed from Earth each year, the Perseids are also known to send out a large number of fireballs — meteors as bright, or brighter, than Jupiter and Venus. Named “fireball champions” by NASA scientists, they are believed to be the result of Swift-Tuttle’s large 26km nucleus that sheds hundred of massive meteoroids. When the particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere at high speeds, they burn and create a flash that we call meteors, or, shooting stars. Astronomers predict that the shooting stars will be streaming through the skies at a pace of between 80 to 100 per hour.
Stargazers will have to contend with the moon, which will be three-quarters full and will rise just before the shower’s peak, at around midnight local time. The bright moonlight will obscure some of the fainter meteors. Thus, NASA recommends catching the show during the pre-dawn hours, from a dark area away from city lights. The camping fields of Eastover Estate will be the perfect location for this viewing and it’s yet ANOTHER reason to get up for sadhana on the morning of August 12th!