BLM officials said that the meteor shower could see up to 75 meteors per hour, though NASA said the event can see up to 100. And good news for stargazers, darker skies due to a new moon will reportedly help showcase the spectacle.
“There is plenty of room to witness nature’s light show!” BLM officials said.
The Perseids is considered the best meteor shower of the year, according to NASA. The event reportedly shows swift and bright meteors, leaving long wakes of light and color as they streak through the sky.
But you may catch a glimpse of something else — fireballs.
“Perseids are also known for their fireballs. Fireballs are larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak. This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of cometary material,” NASA said.
The space debris that ends up in our atmosphere to create the Perseids comes from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which takes over 130 years to orbit the Sun a single time, according to NASA. The comet last entered the inner solar system in 1992.
So where does this meteor shower get its name? The point in the sky in which the Perseids appear to come from is at the constellation Perseus. The namesake is meant to help viewers figure out which meteor shower they are looking at on a given night, NASA said.
Viewers looking to get a glimpse of tonight’s spectacle can experience the glory at BLM Utah public lands. BLM manages nearly 22.8 million acres worth of public lands in Utah, according to their site, making up about 42 percent of the Beehive State.
Here is a list of popular maps to help you plan a visit for the event.
For those who are curious, here is a brief explanation of what a meteor is and how it works.
A meteor occurs when a smaller piece of cometary or asteroidal material enters the atmosphere at high speed and burns up, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The material typically burns up because of frictional heating from the material’s collision with atoms and molecules in the atmosphere.
This is most commonly what occurs, however, when that small bit of comet or asteroid does not completely burn up, and instead makes it to the Earth’s surface, the material that survived the journey is called a meteorite.
Inversely, that same material is called a meteoroid when it has not yet entered Earth’s atmosphere, and is still travelling through interplanetary space.
So, the body of a comet or asteroid “starts its life as a meteoroid,” then makes its fiery streak of light in the atmosphere as a meteor, and if it isn’t destroyed in the process, reaches Earth’s surface as a meteorite!