It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No – it’s the Perseids!
The most visible meteor shower each year, and one which peaks in activity between August 9 and August 14, is the Perseid shower and lucky for West County residents, is primarily visible in the northern hemisphere.
This year it’s expected to reach its maximum rate of activity on August 12 with a rate of 60 or more meteors each hour, which may be best seen during pre-dawn hours. This prolific pre-dawn activity is because the side of the Earth nearest to turning into the sun scoops up more meteors as the Earth moves through space
Although the Perseids’ output doesn’t come close to meteor outbursts or storms such as the Leonids, which may produce greater than 1,000 meteors an hour, it’s among the most visible in our area and the best-known.
These meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories, and are mostly smaller than grains of sand which disintegrate and never hit the Earth’s surface.
Meteors are actually the visible path of a meteoroid that enters Earth’s atmosphere and is popularly called a shooting star or falling star. When many of them radiate from a common point in the sky the event is generally referred to as
a meteor shower and if atmospheric conditions cooperate, it’s a phenomenon worth staying awake (or getting up really early) for.