The Perseids Meteor Shower 2017 Falls Victim To Fake News

Camille Francis
August 12, 2017

From lunar eclipse in India on August 7 and 8, to a total solar eclipse in the United States on August 21, this is an astronomer's month.

Sadly, the shooting stars won't be shining quite as brightly this year.

This year's Perseid Meteor Shower has fallen victim to a false story or rumor that claimed this year's shower would be "the brightest in human history".

The moon was full on August 7, so by Saturday, August 12, it will have waned to about 80 percent illumination.

However, NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke believes the Perseids will be a little more hard to see than expected.

The spectacle of meteor showers is caused by the entry of comets' remnants from outer space into Earth's atmosphere. The moon will be about three-quarters full and rising at midnight, which is typically prime time for shower-watching.

The ideal way to watch the shower, according to Nasa, is to "go outside between midnight and dawn" on August 12.

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This year, the meteors will peak on Saturday August 12.

The best viewing areas are away from bright sources of light, so a trip into the countryside is best. "A year ago also saw an outburst of just over 200 meteors per hour". The longer you give your eyes to adjust to the darkness (30 minutes is ideal), the better your viewing experience will be. Hopefully, enough clearing will take place to see the Perseid Meteor Shower (details later in the article).

The Perseids are one of the most plentiful showers with between 50 and 100 each hour, increased to about 150 per hour this year.

"Aside from the Perseids, there are almost 500 other meteor showers throughout the year", says meteor astronomer and CAMS principal investigator Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute. The comets travel at extreme speeds of around 132,000 miles per hour (59 kilometers per second), which is around 500 times faster than the world's fastest auto is capable of travelling.

Its name comes from the point at which the meteors appear to come from - its radiant - in the constellation of Perseus. It happens every year between the middle of June and the start of September.

"When the comet gets close to the sun - not that close, but in the inner solar system - it melts a little and leaves a lot of debris behind", explained Cathy Cox, Ph.D., a physics professor at Lake Tahoe Community College.

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