Perseids meteor shower 2022: When it will peak and why that’s a problem

‘This year’s Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters’

A shower of Perseid meteors lights up the sky in 2009 in this NASA time-lapse image. (NASA/JPL)

This year’s Perseids meteor shower is happening at the worst possible time, according to NASA.

The problem? The moon. One of the most vivid annual meteor showers will peak on Aug. 12 and 13 but the view will be washed out by the light of the full moon.

The Perseids meteor shower brings 50-100 “shooting stars” per hour at its peak. The moon is so bright that it will wash out all but the very brightest Perseids as they move through the atmosphere.

“Sadly, this year’s Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters,” said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, who leads the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “Most of us in North America would normally see 50 or 60 meteors per hour,” he said, “but this year, during the normal peak, the full Moon will reduce that to 10-20 per hour at best.”

The Perseids will begin to wane Aug. 21-22 and stop completely by Sept. 1. According to NASA, they’re the debris remnants of Comet Swift-Tuttle. The comet is “a lumbering ‘snowball’ composed of ice, rock, and dust, which orbits our Sun every 133 years.” The comet was last visible in 1992 and won’t be seen again until 2125.

The comet was identified in 1862 and the meteor shower was seen over medieval Europe, according to NASA. The annual event was known as “the Tears of St. Lawrence.”

NASA said that this year is not the best year to make a special trip to see the Perseids, but if you find yourself outside between midnight and dawn on Aug. 13 you should look up anyway.

The occasional early Perseid can streak across the sky as much as a week beforehand.

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