August 2012 Perseid Meteor Shower

As of early morning on August 11, 2012, the zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of meteors visible in a dark sky has gone up to 65. That’s the number of meteors you would see under a very dark sky with the radiant of the shower at the sky’s zenith (highest point). The count is according to the International Meteor Organization, and it’s a great number – and it might go higher still on the morning of August 12. It’s time to watch meteors! The peak mornings for the annual Perseid meteor shower are August 11, 12 and 13. August 12 might be the best morning. August 11 might be better than August 13. The moon is waning now. The Delta Aquarid and Perseid meteor showers combine in late July and August to create what most consider the best and most reliable meteor display for Northern Hemisphere observers. As always, after midnight is the best time for meteor-watching. The moon will be there, but getting thinner every morning. On the mornings (not the evenings) of August 11, 12 and 13, the moon will be a waning crescent, and the meteors should be flying at a rate closer to their peak of 50 or 60 meteors per hour. As an added treat – on August 11, 12 and 13 – the moon will be sweeping past the brightest planets Venus and Jupiter in the eastern predawn sky. You can’t ask for more!

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