The most beautiful meteor shower of the year occurred this week.
While we have meteor showers all year round, this is the site with the most meteors.
Get out on Tuesday night if you can as that is the night when meteors will pass through the sky most often. Expect to see a roughly every ten minutes on Tuesday, as long as you stay in a dark (no lights) area.
You can still go out any night this week, but shooting stars are less likely to happen. So you’ll just have to wait longer to see one.
The best time to go out is 11pm. This is when the sky is darkest. At midnight, half the moon rises, adding light to the sky. The darker the night sky, the better you can see the meteor shower.
You can thank Comet Swift-Tuttle for the light show. As it crosses the Earth each year, some of its debris falls to Earth. Those rocks burn up as they fall into our air. The reason this happens is the same as why your hands heat up when you rub them for a minute. Friction generates heat. There’s enough friction and you can get enough heat to make something ignite. This is also the reason why rubbing two wounds together can lead to fire.
So when those pieces of rock rub against our air as they fall, they’ll be hot enough to ignite, giving us a stunning light show.
By the way, a comet is just a rock.
An asteroid is also a rock, but it is a large asteroid. Compares a comet to a much smaller rock. They often have rock fragments and debris behind them as they move, causing the tail you see in comet photos. The tail is also there because it’s essentially a cloud. When you look up during the day and see a large white cloud, you are seeing an area with small pieces of ice that are too light to fall. So the comet’s tail has ice fragments that, together with the rock fragments, give a cloudy appearance.
Have a nice watch and if you go out, look south to see Jupiter and Saturn shining brightly. They are actually brightest at 9pm, which is one hour after sunset.