August is a big month for stargazers and astronomy fans, but this weekend’s meteor shower may leave a little bit to be desired.
The Perseid meteor shower hits its peak this weekend in North America, with the best views available Friday and Saturday nights, but the bright moon, which turned full on Monday, is obscuring many of the fainter Perseids from view.
Astronomers have projected a rate of 150 meteors per hour across North America, but only about 30 to 40 will be visible. In the Sacramento region, a lack of clouds will help viewing, as Saturday night’s forecast predicts clear skies.
If this upsets you, fear not. The Perseid shower’s peak in 2018 will coincide with a new moon, according to Scientific American, meaning much clearer skies and many more meteors visible to the naked eye.
NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke says the Perseids may be the most popular meteor shower of the year, according to Space.com.
It’s hard for stargazers to complain, with such a rare sight around the corner. The upcoming total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 has seen hundreds of thousands of people make arrangements to get the best possible view of the phenomenon – the first of its kind since 1979.
Cooke says the Perseids will be the “warm-up act” for the eclipse.
The Perseid meteors are the debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which enters Earth’s atmosphere every mid-August, according to Scientific American.