This year the annual Perseid meteor shower will peak Thursday night and Friday morning, August 11-12, 2016, but shower meteors can be seen for a night or two before and after the peak. The shower happens when the earth runs into debris shed by comet Swift-Tuttle, and the particles form streaks of light as they race through the atmosphere. At a dark location, such as Oxtongue, with no moon, one can usually see 60 or more per hour. There are some indications that this year’s display may be one of the better ones; however, this year the moon will cut down the number that can be seen until it sets about 1 a.m. The textbooks say the best observing is after midnight when our side of the earth is facing more directly the direction the particles are coming from; however, the trails are longer and frequently more spectacular before midnight. The trails can be seen in any part of the sky, but appear to originate in the constellation of Perseus which will be low in the northeast in the evening and get higher in the northeast as the night goes on.
This post was written by John Williams a local Oxtongue cottager who retired in 2002 from 32 years of teaching astronomy at Albion College in Albion, Michigan.