Ready to catch a few shooting stars? Take a good look up in the night sky over Beaufort this weekend and you just might be in for a treat with the arrival of the annual Perseid meteor shower peak.
Beaufort, as well as the majority of the Lowcountry are lucky enough to have less ground light to light up the sky and make it more difficult to see anything going on in the milky way above. With less light from the ground, we are lucky to be able to see a shooting star nearly every clear night if we look long enough.
For the Northern Hemisphere, August is usually regarded as “meteor month,” with one of the best displays of the year reaching its peak near midmonth. That display is, of course, the annual Perseid meteor shower, which is beloved by meteor enthusiasts and summer campers alike.
If the skies are clear over Beaufort and the sea islands on Saturday and Sunday nights, we’re in for a treat as spectators should see about 60-70 meteors per hour.
This year the moon will be near new moon, it will be a crescent, which means it will set before the Perseid show gets underway after midnight, according to Space.com. The moon is very favorable for the Perseids this year, and that’ll make the Perseids probably the best shower of 2018 for people who want to go out and view it. The Perseids are rich in fireballs, so the show should be even better.
The meteors in the Perseid shower are actually fragments from the Swift-Tuttle comet and they put on a brilliant show. As the Earth nears the tail of the comet, tiny sand- and pea-size bits of debris hit our atmosphere at 132,000 miles per hour, reach temperatures of 3,000 to 10,000 degrees, and streak across the sky,
The best time to view the Perseids, or most other meteor showers is when the sky is the darkest. Most astronomers suggest that depending on the Moon’s phase, the best time to view meteor showers is right before dawn.
The rates of Perseids visible will increase from about 10 p.m. all the way through dawn, so the later you can look the better. Earlier in the night there will be fewer meteors, but the ones that appear will have longer tails as they graze along more of the atmosphere.