Annual Perseid meteor shower to be extra spectacular this year

Posted Jul 29, 2016 by Karen Graham
Late July is the beginning of a trifecta of spectacular, heavenly fireworks shows. Beginning with the Delta Aquariids and the Alpha Capricornids, peaking tonight, they are but the warm-up act for the big show in August, the Perseid meteor showers.
Perseid meteor shower in 2011.
Perseid meteor shower in 2011.
John Walker
The last meteor shower of note occurred in May when the Eta Aquariids let loose with a modest sprinkling of meteors across the early morning skies. So it is nice that we have been graced with an early show before the big event August 11 and 12.
As the Delta Aquarids and Alpha Capricornids meteor showers diminish in the night sky, we won't have long to wait before the really big event takes place. According to astronomers, this year's show will be especially beautiful thanks to a particularly dusty “outburst” as the Earth passes through the debris, according to CTV News.
Direction of the perseids in the night sky
Direction of the perseids in the night sky
The Perseid meteor shower
The Perseid meteor shower is associated with the comet, Swift-Tuttle, discovered by Lewis Swift on July 16, 1862, and by Horace Parnell Tuttle on July 19, 1862. The Perseid meteor showers associated with the comet have been observed since ancient times. The perseids are so-called because the point from which they appear to come, called the "radiant," lies in the constellation Perseus.
The meteor shower occurs each summer when the Earth's orbit takes it into the path of the comet. The Earth actually intersects with the space debris, a combination of dust and small particles of rock that originate from the Swift-Tuttle comet.
As the Earth passes through the comet's tail from about mid-July to mid-August every year, some of the debris and particles we have been talking about will ignite when the enter our atmosphere. The resulting "shooting stars" and streaks of light are really bits of burning dust, traveling at 37 miles or 59 kilometers per second.
York University astronomy and physics professor Paul Delaney talked with CTV News. He says, “If you pass through an area of that stream that is more densely populated with that material, then that’s called an outburst." And we can expect to see an "outburst" on August 11 and 12 when the Perseids puts on its show.
NASA researchers say that the best place to view the show, especially in its early stages would be in Europe. But they say North America will also be a good location for observation of the spectacular outburst.
The Comet Swift-Tuttle  which was first spotted in 1862  is thought to be roughly six miles across. ...
The Comet Swift-Tuttle, which was first spotted in 1862, is thought to be roughly six miles across. Since its first official sighting in the 19th century by Louis Swift and then by Horace Tuttle three days later, this comet hadn't been seen again until 130 years later when its closest pass with Earth occurred in 1992.
Kowch 737
The Inquisitr reports that Bill Cooke, the head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, is quoted in Scientific American as saying, “This year, instead of seeing about 80 Perseids per hour, the rate could top 150 and even approach 200 meteors per hour.”
The last time we observed an "outburst" was in 2009, and we saw twice the number of "shooting stars." While the shooting stars are typically the size of a grain of sand, they have been known to inflict some damage to our satellites.
In 1993, an outburst inflicted permanent damage to the European Space Agency's telecommunications satellite known as Olympus. Then, in 2009's outburst, a collision with a Perseid meteor caused NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey's LandSat 5 satellite to wobble out of control temporarily.
The Perseid meteor shower can be seen from just about any place on Earth, centering around the north or northwestern sky. The shower will still be visible in the Southern Hemisphere, but it just won't be as bright. The Perseid meteor shower will be visible between midnight and dawn. Try to find someplace where you are away from city lights.