WEST MICHIGAN — The annual Perseid meteor shower occurs and peaks over a three-night period from August 10 – 13. Unfortunately, high cirrus clouds will continue to stream in from the south and west overnight and may cover some of them Sunday night in to Monday morning. The clearest skies will be north and east of Grand Rapids where the clouds may be thin enough to view the show.
As a cold front approaches the state on Monday, showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop across the area off/on throughout the day. We need the rain, but chances are the clouds will remain locked in place Monday night in to Tuesday morning until the associated low pressure system and cold front pull far enough away from the region.
Tuesday night in to Wednesday morning will probably be our best chance at seeing the Perseids. The comet Swift-Tuttle is responsible for the Perseids as Earth crosses into the debris trail the comet leaves behind as it makes its way around the sun. Comet Swift-Tuttle has a large nucleus which means it leaves behind plenty of debris and in a good year, stargazers could see as many as 100 meteors per hour at the Perseids’ peak. Comet Swift-Tuttle last passed Earth in 1992 and travels in a 133 year orbit around the sun.
For best viewing make sure to get far away from city lights and look in to the northeast sky towards the Perseus constellation. Of course, the almost full rising moon won’t help the situation as it will likely drown out some of the visibility of the meteors. In any case…best of luck for this year’s viewing!