Stargazers hoping to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower this month may be disappointed because a full moon Aug. 15 likely will wash out a number of meteors from view.
Rather than the usual 60 to 80 meteors per hour, skygazers will see 10 to 20 per hour.
A full moon occurs during the meteor shower every few years, said Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.
Still, the Perseid shower likely will put on a better show than the Delta Aquarid shower, which peaked Wednesday. The Perseid shower usually is considered the second-best shower of the year, trailing only the Geminid shower in mid-December, said Cooke.
The Perseid shower has been putting on a preview of sorts since July 17 – one to three meteors per night – and will peak Aug. 12-13 before fading to a conclusion Aug. 24.
To view the Perseids, find a dark location, a comfortable chair and look to the northeast quadrant of the sky between 10 p.m. and 4:30 a.m., said James Andrus, a Cortez meteorologist for the National Weather Service. Avoid using a telescope, he said, because it will limit the range of view.
The Perseid meteor shower was first observed by the Chinese in 36 A.D. Its name comes from the fact that its radiant, the point from where the meteors appear to come from, lies in the constellation Perseus. In a normal year, people can see about one meteor per minute. In 1993, some stargazers viewed 300 meteors in an hour.
“Sometimes, it puts on a really good display,” Andrus said.