North America has a pretty good seat for this cosmic event.
1. First, check the visibility map to make sure it’s visible from your location.
2. Then check the weather – if you are expecting clouds, then Mother Nature has just rained on your parade and you won’t be able to see any meteors from outside your home. However, we will continue to stream clear skies here overnight, trying to find the best view of the night sky from our network of ground based telescopes.
3. If the weather gods are smiling down upon you, find a safe, dark location – away from city lights and lay out beneath the stars. You don’t need to look in any particular direction, just straight up, but away from the moon. Meteors can appear all over the sky.
4. Add a lawn chair or sleeping bag and some snacks and you should be set!
The annual Perseid meteor shower will peak in the skies over Earth on the night of Aug. 12-13. Despite a bright moon, there should still be a good show from this prolific shower. Projected peak rates are 30-40 meteors/hour. Much of the world can see Perseids any time after full dark, with peak viewing projected early on the morning of Aug. 13 (3-4 a.m., your local time).
Dr. Bill Cooke, Rhiannon Blaauw and Danielle Moser of the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office will take your Perseid questions via live web chat. The chat module will appear on this page on Aug. 12 at 11 p.m. EDT (Aug. 13, 3:00 UTC). A Ustream view of the skies over Marshall Space Flight Center will be embedded on this page on Aug. 12 at 9:30 p.m. EDT (Aug. 13, 1:30 UTC).
The map below shows global viewing for the Perseids. Click on the map for a larger view. (NASA/MSFC/Danielle Moser)
From our Meteoroid Environment Office here at Marshall Space Flight Center, courtesy of Danielle Moser, showing the speeds of several meteor showers. (NASA/MSFC/Danielle Moser)
We have completed our analyses and here’s what we know:
At 10:19 PM Central Daylight Time on August 2 (Saturday night), NASA meteor cameras detected a very bright fireball at an altitude of 57 miles above Hoodoo Road just east of the town of Beechgrove, TN. The meteoroid, which was about 15 inches in diameter and weighed close to 100 lbs, travelled just over 100 miles to the south south east at 47,000 miles per hour, breaking apart in a brilliant flash of light above the Alabama town of Henagar. The cameras continued to track a large fragment until it disappeared 18 miles above Gaylesville, located near Lake Weiss close to the Georgia state line. At last sight, the fragment was still traveling at 11,000 miles per hour. Based on the meteor’s speed, final altitude, and weak doppler radar signatures, it is believed that this fireball produced small meteorites on the ground somewhere between Borden Springs, AL and Lake Weiss.
The meteoroid’s orbit has its farthest point between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and is inclined to that of the Earth (which explains its southerly direction).
Check out the video!
The NASA Meteoroid Environment Office would like to hear from those in the area around Alabama’s Lake Weiss who may have heard sonic booms or like sounds around 10:20 PM Saturday night. Please contact Dr. Bill Cooke at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have reports of such.