A crescent moon should not pose a problem to viewing the Perseid meteor shower next week. But as any Northwest astronomy buff will attest, clouds could be another issue.
The meteor show is expected to peak the night of Aug. 12-13. The waning moon will not rise until 1:12 a.m. on Aug. 12 and 2:05 a.m. Aug. 13. Viewing the event last year was made very difficult by a full moon.
Experts are predicting the shower to produce up to 60 meteors per hour. The Perseid tends to strengthen in number as late night deepens into midnight, said earthsky.com, and typically produce the most meteors in the wee hours before dawn. These meteors are often bright and frequently leave persistent trains.
To best view the celestial show, find a spot far from city lights and look to the northeast.
The meteors are remnants of the Swift-Tuttle comet and seem to radiate from the constellation Perseus, just beneath the constellation Cassiopeia, whose brightest stars form a W-shape in the northern sky. As they collide with the Earth’s atmosphere at more than 140,000 mph, they generate bright meteor shows, said Alice Few of the Tacoma Astronomical Society.
If you don’t know where Perseus is in the night sky, you can still easily watch the show because the meteors appear in all parts of the sky.
Some good viewing locations in the South Sound include Penrose Point and Kopachuck state parks, Mount Rainier National Park, along Old Highway 99 between Tenino and Interstate 5, the Yelm Prairie area and Mima Mounds near Littlerock.
You also don’t need to worry about having a telescope or binoculars. Meteor showers are best viewed with the naked eye, Few said. Using optics just narrows your field of view too much to be effective.
Bring a comfortable chair or a thick blanket, dress for the weather, sit back and wait for the meteors to streak across the email@example.com