PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – There isn’t much better than a summer night watching meteors, and we are now entering the peak viewing window for our most well-known meteor shower, the Perseids.
This should turn out to be a wonderful viewing because we will be on our way to a crescent moon, which shouldn’t project too much light. It is likely that we see around 40 to 50 meteors per hour at the shower’s peak, and if you’re lucky, you may even see a bit more.
The Perseids are a staple each summer because they produce some of the brighter meteors for your pleasure. Now you may have already seen a few, since they occur every year between July 17 through Aug. 24. The sweet spot for viewing is this week from Tuesday, Aug. 11 through Thursday, Aug. 13.
Now the best time for this is around 2 a.m., but if you start earlier you should still have success.
To find the meteor showers, look to the night sky’s northern horizon and find the Perseus constellation, which will steer you in the right direction. You can use the photo below to try to help you guide you in the right direction. Once you find the right spot, you just want to let your eyes settle a bit and before you know it, you’re watching the Perseids.
Where does the meteor shower come from? According to Jim Todd of OMSI, the meteor shower is from tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. There is quite an interesting history to this, the Perseid meteor shower occurs when the Earth enters that debris path left by the comet Swift-Tuttle during its last trip past the Sun in December 1992. As comets orbit the Sun, they shed an icy, dusty debris stream along the comet’s orbit.
What does the forecast look like? If you were hoping for some great viewing conditions, you should find a sliver of open sky to enjoy the viewing. Late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning is supposed to be the peak of the peak. There will be some clouds pushing in from the coast Wednesday morning. You may find your best slot late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning before any clouds move in.
If you can’t get out until Wednesday night, the viewing looks equally nice around our section of the state. In fact, it may even be a bit more clear for the northern Oregon coast. Watch out for some clouds for you folks over in Baker City Wednesday night. Temperatures should be relatively nice too, with some 50s in the forecast overnight. It may even feel a bit chilly out there.
Here is a magnificent image from a previous Perseid meteor shower. Enjoy the view!