One of the best star shows of the year will reach its peak Saturday. Astronomy experts predict this year’s Perseid meteor shower will produce up to 60 meteors an hour at the peak.
Observing the shower will be difficult because of the full moon that night. The glare of the moon will hide the fainter meteors. The moon is expected to rise at 7:39 p.m. Friday. The best viewing opportunities will be in the early morning hours early this week.
Because the moon will be so bright, it will be important for observers to find as dark a viewing location as possible. Locations such as Sunrise Point and Kautz Creek at Mount Rainier National Park, or Mima Mounds near Littlerock, are good choices. Other options are Penrose Point and Kopachuck state parks, the area along Old Highway 99 between Tenino and Interstate 5 and the Yelm Prairie area.
How do you know whether you’ve found a good spot? If you can see each star of the Little Dipper, your eyes have adapted to the night and your chosen site is probably dark enough, according to the McDonald Observatory website, stardate.org. Under those conditions, you will see plenty of meteors.
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You’ll want a clear view to the north-northeast. The meteors will look like they are coming from the constellation Perseus.
If you can’t get out that night, you can still see meteors now through Aug. 22. If you head out now, you might also catch the lesser-known Delta Aquarid meteor shower, which peaked Friday. Early morning is the best time to view this meteor shower.
The meteor shower is created when the Earth passed through the debris cloud left by the comet Swift-Tuttle.