Fact Check

Meteor 'Outburst' Expected Over North America

A Perseids meteor "outburst" will be visible in August 2016.

Published Jul 28, 2014


The Perseids, so named because they appear to originate in the constellation Perseus, are an annual meteor shower first observed about 2,000 years ago. The Perseids shower is generally visible in the northern hemisphere from mid-July onwards each year, reaching its peak around the second week of August (typically between the 9th and the 14th of that month). In 2016, the meteor shower will be unusually active in an "outburst" that takes place about once every decade:

In past years, stargazers would have seen up to one meteor each minute, on average, in a very dark sky. But this year, there’s even more reason to stay up late or crawl out of bed in the middle of the night.

“We’re expecting 160 to 200 meteors per hour,” said Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office.

At that time, the constellation Perseus will be nearly overhead, and meteors will appear as if streaking away from it.

According to an Astronomy.com article on the annual Perseid show:

If you ask most skygazers to name their favorite meteor shower, the odds are good that "Perseid" will be the first word out of their mouths. This annual shower seemingly has it all: It offers a consistently high rate of meteors year after year; it produces a higher percentage of bright ones than most other showers; it occurs in August when many people take summer vacation; and it happens at a time when nice weather and reasonable nighttime temperatures are common north of the equator. No other major shower can boast all four of these attributes.

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