Clouds Covering Your Meteor Shower? Here's How To Check Out The Perseids

Aug 9, 2016

A time-lapse view of the 2009 Perseid meteor shower. This year's Perseids are expected to peak overnight from Aug. 11 into Aug. 12.
Credit NASA

The Perseid meteor shower is back for its annual mid-summer show, but with more force this year.

Stargazers can catch a glimpse of 100 to 150 meteors – remnants of the Swift Tuttle comet – flying by Earth every hour when celestial activity peaks between late Thursday evening and early Friday. The annual pass usually takes place each year from mid-July to mid-August. 

“All of these little particles of rock burn up in our atmosphere and put on a pretty spectacular show,” said Charissa Sedor, planetarium producer of the Carnegie Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium.

Sedor said this year Jupiter’s gravity is nudging the meteors closer to Earth in what will be a brighter and more vibrant display. She said the best view will start after 1 a.m. when the sky is its darkest and the moon starts to set -- but that’s IF the sky is clear.

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh predicts thick cloud cover Thursday night with few breaks to catch the meteor shower. Meteorologist Lee Hendricks credited a storm moving up from the Gulf of Mexico that scientists predict will cover most of the Atlantic seaboard.

“You might see a brief glimmer of it,” Hendricks said.

But if clouds do cover the sky Thursday, Sedor said not to fear. The Perseids will last at least another week.

And for those who may not be able to watch the meteor shower, Sedor suggested listening to it.

Spaceweather Radio records the echoes created by meteors as they pass by. A stream is available on its website.

For those who do make it outside to watch, Sedor said you won't need any special equipment.

“All you need to do is go outside and lay on your back and get the widest view of the sky you possibly can,” Sedor said.