This year, the Perseids are expected to be super-charged by what NASA is calling an “outburst effect.” Bill Cook, who leads NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Ala. says we can thank Jupiter for an expected increase in the number of meteors this year. Usually, the Earth just grazes the edge of the Swift-Tuttle debris stream, but this year, Jupiter’s gravity will tug the debris stream closer and Earth should plow through the middle of them. A Perseid outburst last occurred in 2009.
So when and where should you look out for this celestial show? Obviously, the first factor in viewing will be the weather. Keep an eye on the forecast. If skies are clear, you can start looking any night as meteors will light up the sky throughout most of this month. However, the meteor shower will peak during the predawn hours this Friday. The peak time to look will be once the moon sets which will be after midnight. However, if you can’t stay up that late, you may still see a few meteors if you gaze toward the northern sky. Plus, the evening sky will also be spectacular as Saturn, Venus, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter will all be making appearances in the southern and western skies.