Massive meteor shower should reach its peak Aug. 12-13

FARGO -- The best time for people across the U.S. to witness one of the most "plentiful meteor showers" is coming up, according to NASA. During the Perseid meteor showers, most visible across the U.S. on Sunday, Aug. 12, and Monday, Aug. 13, peop...
Perseid meteors as seen in August 2009. NASA / JPL / Special to The Forum

FARGO - The best time for people across the U.S. to witness one of the most "plentiful meteor showers" is coming up, according to NASA.

During the Perseid meteor showers, most visible across the U.S. on Sunday, Aug. 12, and Monday, Aug. 13, people may witness 50 to 100 meteors per hour in clear, summer night skies. The showers are active from July 14 to Aug. 24, but peaks in mid-August.

The Perseids are debris from the Swift-Tuttle comets. The comet only orbits the sun once every 133 years, but the debris can be seen every year in the summer months.

This meteor shower and others can be seen in a time lapse from space in an interactive map provided with data from NASA Ames Researcher Peter Jenniskens.

Jay Bjerke, president of the Fargo-Moorhead Astronomy Club, said the best location to view the meteor shower will be away from city lights.

"At the end of the day, these are just small dust particles entering the atmosphere and burning up. They aren't very bright, so you have to get out of the city lights to see them. You really have to get out in the country," he said.

"This year, we'll be lucky the moon won't be shining most of the night," Bjerke said. "It will be a very thin crescent, so it should be quite dark. You'll want to look northeast."

The Fargo-Moorhead Astronomy Club will host a Star Party beginning at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at the Minnesota State University Moorhead Regional Science Center, 663 164th St. S., in rural Glyndon, Minn. The club will have telescopes for people to view different stars and even view some of the meteors before the peak. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn should offer good views in the sky as well, according to Bjerke.