On Saturday, August 11th, get to a dark location and look to the northeast as the 2012 Perseid meteor shower hits its peak and puts on a dazzling display of shooting stars. Not only will the late moonrise make this year’s show more visible than usual, we’ll also be treated to a good look at the brightest planets in the solar system as they line up in the middle of the display.
According to NASA, the Perseids can be seen any time after 10 or 11pm, but you’ll be able to get the best views by staying up really late – or getting up really early – in the darkest hours just before dawn. If you head out to the countryside to watch the meteor shower, you’ll be able to see three times more stars than in the city.
On August 11th, Jupiter, Venus and the crescent moon will gather together as the Perseid meteor shower hits its peak, and the red-giant star Aldebaran will be visible as well. On August 12th, the planets and the moon will create a bright line in the sky, and on the 13th, the crescent moon will pass less than 3 degrees from Venus. Check out this ScienceCast video providing a preview of what you’ll get to see.
Want to participate in the scientific effort to track the Perseid meteor shower? NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office has created an app for Android and iPhones that will help you count meteors in a scientific way and report them back. It’s called ‘Meteor Counter’ and it’s available for free in the Android Marketplace and Apple’s App Store.