The annual sky show of the Perseid Meteors will peak this weekend, August 10-13. The Chicago Tribune reports the best time to see them in this area is after midnight, in the predawn hours of Sunday, August 11.
Clear skies are forecast overnight, and the crescent moon will set before midnight. What could you see? Possibly, 50 to 100 meteors in an hour!
That’s under ideal conditions, which means a clear, dark sky, and no trees or tall buildings to obstruct the view. Needless to say, this can present a challenge in urban areas.
But for those hoping to get a look at the Perseids, dark skies are not so far away.
Some beaches will be open later Saturday and Sunday nights. Both Montrose Beach and 12th St. Beach will be open until midnight. Lighthouse Beach in Evanston will also have extended hours.
The Adler Planetarium will be holding a Perseid event Monday August 12 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. There will be activities for kids and grown ups, too.
If you are going to make a night of it, here are some skywatching tips—
- find a safe place, with a clear, unobstructed view
- allow time –at least 30 minutes–for your eyes to adjust to the darkness
- look toward the northeast, about halfway up the sky
- you don’t need special equipment, but binoculars would be handy, especially if you are going out earlier, to admire the crescent moon
- dress for overnight weather–take along a sweater or a hoodie
- don’t forget snacks–and maybe a thermos of coffee
The Perseid meteors have been observed for over 2000 years. They are ejected particles from the Comet Swift-Tuttle, as it makes its 133-year orbit around the sun. Every year, from around July 17 to August 24, Earth crosses the orbital path of this debris field, one of the most spectacular events in the summer night sky.
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