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Above the Smoke - Perseid Meteor Shower is This Weekend


You've been hearing a lot about the solar eclipse August 21, but that's not the only stunning astronomical event happening this month. Second, we'll have a bright moon in the sky during the time to watch, so moonlight will wash out the fainter meteors.

There is a presentation about the meteor shower for about 20 minutes starting at 9 p.m. highlighting what causes the event. The moon will be waning and will still be about 80% of the brightness of the full moon. This weekend in the Bitterroot Valley (and the rest of Western Montana), that is also the time when the forest fire smoke settles in the valleys for risky air quality levels and it's the time the moon is high in the sky, "washing out" numerous dimmer meteor trails.

While the night of August 12-13 is the annual meteor shower's peak, higher than normal meteor sightings will continue until the shower ends on August 24.

A Perseid meteor shower will send thousands of fireballs hurtling towards Earth, with the peak of activity likely to be on Saturday and Sunday between 3am and 4am. The shower can also be viewed with the naked eye, so even those without a telescope can see the night sky light up by the comets.

If you get away from city lights and see a clear sky, look north.

Despite wild media reports about it being the brightest meteor shower in human history, NASA said "no such thing is going to happen".

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Next year, the Perseid Meteor Shower is expected to coincide with the New Moon (this moon phase is very dim) and makes for great viewing conditions.

At Babcock State Park, naturalist Abby Rice will provide meteor-spotting guidance during a Perseid Party that starts at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Boley Lake.

Enjoy the Perseid meteor shower, but remember it can take quite a few minutes before you see a shooting star so don't look away, you may miss one! To see how those meteoroids moved in space before entering Earth's atmosphere, check out this website showing the latest data collected by NASA's Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance (CAMS) project.

The name Perseids came about as the meteors seem to come from the constellation Perseus - itself named after the Greek hero who beheaded Medusa.

"Every Perseid meteor is a tiny piece of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years".

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