Perseid meteor shower ‘warm-up act’ for this month’s eclipse

FILE - This Friday, Aug. 12, 2016 file photo made with a long exposure shows streaks in the sky during a Perseid meteor shower, seen behind crosses in Marganell, Spain. NASA’s meteor expert, Bill Cooke, says astronomers are projecting a slightly higher than normal rate of 150 meteors per hour across North America. But the bright moon will wash out the finer Perseids. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Consider this weekend’s Perseid meteor shower an opening act for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21.

 

Astronomers are projecting a slightly higher than normal rate of 150 meteors per hour across North America.

But the bright moon will wash out the finer Perseids.

Space.com noted that the moon turned full on Aug. 7 and currently is in a bright, waning phase. The effect is to impair the visibility of the meteors during peak viewing times.

Rain showers, possible thunderstorms and mostly cloudy skies in the Athens area on Saturday and Sunday as predicted by the National Weather Service might also put a damper on watching the meteors streak across the sky.

For those who are able to get a peek at the sky through a break in the clouds, the meteor viewing rate will be about 30 to 40 per hour. Peak viewing will be early Saturday, Saturday night and early Sunday.

Last year’s Perseids excelled with 200 meteors an hour, and Space.com says next year’s Perseid meteor show likely will be spectacular.

Peak viewing times for the shower coincide with a new moon in 2018, so should the weather cooperate, it could result in seeing up to 90 meteors per hour burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

For this year, the real cosmic show will be the total solar eclipse — the first to cross the U.S. coast to coast in 99 years.

NASA’s meteor expert, Bill Cooke, says the Perseids “can be the warm-up act.”

Athens is so near the so-called “path of totality” for the solar eclipse that area residents will see 99 percent of the moon blocking the sun.

Many local schools plan to extend the school day during the eclipse as it passes through the area and peaks at about 2:30 p.m.

Events in the area include a gathering at Sanford Stadium that afternoon and the Blackout Bash viewing party taking place at Terrapin Brewery on Newton Bridge Road and starting at noon.

For tickets and more information about the Blackout Bash, visit onlineathens.com/blackoutbash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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