One of the year’s heaviest meteor showers will peak Thursday evening through Friday morning, but will Chicago-area residents be able to catch the show?
The Perseid meteor shower, which occurs annually as Earth moves through the path left by Comet Swift-Tuttle, can lead to 60 to 100 meteors per hour at its peak.
Stargazers will have to do a few things to give themselves the maximum chance of seeing it. Here’s what we know so far.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the forecast for skies remains mostly clear Thursday night through Friday morning, which means cloud cover likely won’t be a huge obstacle to seeing meteor showers.
Even with a clear sky, there would be at least one obstacle to face: the Sturgeon Supermoon. The last supermoon of 2022 will be in the sky Thursday night through Friday morning, and the bright light of the full moon could remove some of the faint streaks of light in the sky from the Perseids.
How to overcome this problem
Fortunately for those interested in spotting meteors, experts say there are a few things you can do to see them.
First, the peak display will occur after midnight, which means that the “radiant point” of the meteor shower will be higher on the eastern horizon and the moon will be lower on the western horizon, providing a darker sky.
In addition to getting out early Friday morning and looking east, stargazers should also try to get as far away from city lights as possible to catch the show, according to experts.
finally, Administrators at Adler Planetarium Residents are advised to give themselves plenty of time to adapt to the darkness. It can take the human eye 20-30 minutes to adapt to the dark, and once that happens, you’ll likely be able to see several meteors per minute.
More information about Perseids
Meteor showers are called Perseids because they appear to have originated from the same spot in the night sky as the constellation of Perseus, according to NASA.
The bath is also unique from other annual events, including the Geminids and Quadrantids, because it takes place during the summer, when it’s warmer and sitting outside is generally more fun. Those last rains occur during the months of December and January, respectively.
Finally, the reason astronomers recommend looking east to see most meteorites is that this side of the horizon is on the leading edge of the Earth’s rotation on its axis, and thus catches more meteorites than the other side.