Above image courtesy of spaceweather.com
The annual Perseid Meteor Shower (pronounced Pur-see-id) is peaking Thursday night/ Friday morning.
The shower gets its name because it seems to come from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky, as shown on the above star map.
Here's what's happening: The Comet Swift-Tuttle orbits the sun once every 133 years. It leaves behind a huge trail of dust and debris on its trip.
The Earth’s orbit carries it across the wide path of the comet’s “space litter” every year on the 11th-13th of August. The peak is on the 12th.
That’s what you’ll see in the sky: pieces of the comet’s left-overs entering the atmosphere and burning up due to friction. They are really screaming too: the chunks of rock and ice hit the upper atmosphere at over 100,000 miles per hour!
It’s one of the best shows of the year. Texoma skies should cooperate nicely. Clear weather is in the forecast.
If you want to see it:
1) Try to get away from city lights as much as possible.
2) Prepare to stay up late.
3) Wait until after the moon is below the horizon. It creates a glare which makes it hard to see much. The moon sets about 10pm, but more frequent activity should be after midnight anyway, and through the pre-dawn hours Friday.
4) Be patient. While astronomers are predicting up to 100 meteors per hour, only a few will be spectacular fireballs, and that’s the absolute peak, not 100 per hour every hour.
The majority of them will be bright but short streaks of light. It might be fun to wait and watch for the bigger ones which may be mixed in!