Meteors!

Really need to con my friend Fabien into driving out of town tonight… H/t to reader Jeff. (I’ve seen the long, slow meteors before – only once, in West Virginia, during this meteor shower – oh my God, a ball of fire in the sky, amazing):

(Note: In the narrative that follows, all times are local. For instance, 9:00 pm means 9:00 pm in your time zone, where you live. )

Serious meteor hunters will begin their watch early, on Monday evening, August 11th, around 9 pm when Perseus first rises in the northeast.

This is the time to look for Perseid Earthgrazers–meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping across the surface of a pond.

“Earthgrazers are long, slow and colorful; they are among the most beautiful of meteors,” says Cooke. He cautions that an hour of watching may net only a few of these at most, but seeing even one can make the whole night worthwhile.

A warm summer night. Bright meteors skipping overhead. And the peak is yet to come. What could be better?

The answer lies halfway up the southern sky: Jupiter and the gibbous Moon converge on August 11th and 12th for a close encounter in the constellation Sagittarius: sky map. It’s a grand sight visible even from light-polluted cities.

For a while the beautiful Moon will interfere with the Perseids, lunar glare wiping out all but the brightest meteors. Yin-yang.

The situation reverses itself at 2 am on Tuesday morning, August 12th, when the Moon sets and leaves behind a dark sky for the Perseids. The shower will surge into the darkness, peppering the sky with dozens and perhaps hundreds of meteors until dawn.

For maximum effect, “get away from city lights,” Cooke advises.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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