ST LOUIS (LALATE) – The Perseid Meteor Shower start time tonight August 13, 2012 promises superb visibility compared to last year. If you are wondering what time does the meteor shower start tonight August 2012, don’t fret; you still have several hours to prepare for the shooting stars. Tonight’s show is the result of the debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle impacting the earth’s atmosphere during its rotation. NASA tells news that the Perseid Meteor Shower 2012 (live streaming video below) will light up the sky on the nights of August 11, August 12, and August 13.
Knowing what time the meteor shower begins tonight is a far different issue than when to see its peak performance. NASA tells news that the meteor shower start time will begin “any time after 10 to 11 pm” on each of three night. But that’s not necessarily the peak time for meteor hunting. Officials indicate to news that the start time for peak shower activity is “during the dark hours immediately before dawn”.
NASA tells stargazers to get a lawn chair into position in the late evening around 10 pm. But be patient because the real display for meteor hunting usually kicks in after midnight. Moreover, officials tell news that the best time, for the most showers, is often the darkest hours right before sunrise.
The Perseid meteor shower is an annual display that arrives August 11-13 each year. But sometimes those shooting stars or meteors are far less visible in the sky because of poor weather conditions. Such was the case in 2011. But for this August, the display is expected to be the best in two years.
The shooting stars are particles of dust and debris remaining from the tail of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. As the earth rotates, its atmosphere impacts those particles. That impact results in particle burning and leaving streaks.
Tonight, the earth will again be passing through comet Swift-Tuttle’s debris. The best night is generally the predawn of August 12, 2012. But this year, NASA is reporting that great weather conditions will make all three nights a delight for families.
But the big difference tonight will be the number of shooting stars. In average years, the Perseid Meteor Shower has delivered an average fifty to eighty meteors per hour. In great years, stargazers have gotten as many as one hundred seventy-three meteors per hour. But in 2011, the number was as low as thirty per hour. This year, however, the number is expected to be in excess of one hundred meteors per hour. Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, in a news statement this week, says the visibility this year will be far greater than offered last year.
NASA reports that tonight, “with the shower just beginning to wane, the planets put on their best show yet.” The movement of the moon will impact the display, NASA tells news. “The 17% crescent moon will pass less than 3 degrees from Venus as Jupiter hovers overhead.” That in turn will create a far different spectacle than shown on August 12. “Sky watchers say there’s nothing prettier than a close encounter between the slender crescent Moon and Venus–nothing, that is, except for the crescent Moon, Venus and a flurry of Perseids”.
NASA will be providing live streaming video of the show. The camera on the video below is light-activated. Once the show begins in the sky, “you’ll see [in the UStream video] white points, or stars, on a black background”, NASA indicated in a news statement.