Updated on Aug. 13 with information about ideal viewing locations in Qatar.
Qatar residents who wish to check out this year’s Perseid meteor shower should look to the sky tomorrow night and early Wednesday morning, a leading local astronomer has said.
Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of debris – a mixture of ice and dust – from the comet Swift-Tuttle. These then burn up in the atmosphere, resulting in a beautiful meteor shower.
Although Perseids is best seen in the northern hemisphere, Sheikh Salman bin Jabor Al Thani, chairman of the Astronomy Department of the Qatar Science Club, said Qatar residents should be able to view the shooting stars shortly after sunset on Tuesday (22:00 GMT).
On Facebook, Jassim Lari of the Qatar Astronomy Club said the best time to observe the show would be from midnight until dawn. He added:
“The luminosity of the full moon will reduce the number of these ‘shooting stars’ to 20-15 per hour in best seeing conditions…
Best places are the dark areas in the country like Al Shamal and Al Kharrara. (Beware of rodents in this time of the year).”
Perseids is usually easiest to view when the sky is the darkest – typically just before dawn.
However, a supermoon that appeared yesterday will be just past full on Tuesday night, and its light may make it harder to spot the meteor showers.
On Sunday, the moon came the closest it’s been to the earth in 20 years, lighting up the sky with an unusual celestial glow.
For those who missed it, another larger and brighter-than-normal moon is expected to rise next month, on Sept. 9.
Though the sky will be bright during this year’s Perseids meteor shower, Al Thani told Qatar Tribune that the glare from the moon shouldn’t block out the entire show.
NASA is saying the same thing. In a video explaining the two celestial occurrences, Bill Cooke from NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office said:
“The Perseids are rich in fireballs as bright as Jupiter or Venus. These will be visible in spite of the glare.”
Still, for those worried about missing the Perseids, NASA will be offering a live-stream on its website here.
Do you plan to check out the show? Thoughts?