Science
3:30 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Meteor Shower To Shine On Sunday

The Perseid meteor showers have come and gone every year since 36 A.D., and this year’s summer spectacle is expected to be one for the ages.

According to NASA, the meteor shower will produce more bright lights and streaks than any other annual shower, earning it the name, “Fireball Champion.”

This year, the shower began July 17 and concludes Aug. 24.

While the skies are forecasted to be cloudy through Friday, this weekend is expected to be cloud free for optimum viewing, said Dan Malerbo, planetarium education coordinator at the Carnegie Science Center.

“You’ll be able to see some meteors this week,” Malerbo said, “but as we approach the weekend you’ll see more and more peaking Sunday night into Monday morning.”

Although the shower typically lasts 39 days, there’s always one night where the “shooting stars” are most visible. As many as 100 meteors per hour are expected to appear Sunday, according to NASA.

Seeming to radiate from the constellation Perseus, the lights actually appear as the Earth passes through the dust particles of the comet Swift-Tuttle. As the Earth travels through the dust, the debris is burned up in the atmosphere at 132,000 miles per second, causing the streaking effect recognized as “shooting stars.”

On Sunday, the slim crescent moon sets early, diminishing any moonlight interference that could disrupt one’s view of the shower.

Urban areas are not ideal for viewing the “Fireball Champion,” so Pittsburghers trying to catch a glimpse of the annual light show need to find a dark area away from the glare of city lights.

Malerbo suggests Deer Lakes Park in Allegheny County, Mingo Creek in Washington County, Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County and Moraine State Park in Butler County.

Malerbo said the best time to view the meteors is after 11 p.m.

“Get your favorite lawn chair,” Malerbo said. “Don’t forget the bug spray and look towards the northeast and you’ll be able to spot Perseus and the Perseid shower.”