How Were The Perseids From Your House Last Night?

Of five Perseids, only one was caught by the camera. It was an unusual meteor that flared twice before burning out. It almost looks like it skipped across the atmosphere like a stone skipping on water. Credit: Bob King

I set the alarm for 2:15 and spent an hour with the Perseids this morning. How many meteors flashed by? Oh, five. But every one was like winning the lottery.

The graph above shows the ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate), which is the number of Perseids an observer would see under a very dark sky with the radiant of the shower at the top of the sky. Counts are shown through 9 p.m. CDT Aug. 12. The trend toward maximum is obvious. Times are Universal Time. Subtract 4 hours for EDT, 5 for CDT, 6 for MDT and 7 for PDT. Credit: IMO

The low number was surprising given that magnitude 4 stars were readily visible. On the up side, all of those I saw were bright and moved incredibly fast like sparks from an arc welder. Preliminary data from the International Meteor Organization shows a peak around 55 meteors an hour yesterday evening (Aug. 12, U.S. time). Counts for the early morning hours still aren’t in yet, so final numbers and shower peak time may change.

Self-portrait with Perseids around 3:15 this morning. Perfect weather, friendly moonlight and cricket song made for a pleasant outing. At top you can see Auriga and the Hyades in Taurus. Credit: Bob King

A reminder that the Perseids will continue to fire off meteors through the remainder of the week, although at a declining rate. With the moon rising later each night, viewing conditions will improve, so be on the lookout for more flaming comet flakes.

12 Responses

  1. Mel

    Hello Bob!

    Thanks for posting the pics! I didn’t even try to get any on camera. I went out around 2:30 this morning for about 30-45 mins. We had clear skies, a beautiful Moon and “cricket song” in the background. At first we had to pay very close attention as there were a few faint ones, but as time went on we saw those big bright meteors flash across the sky! One of the brighter ones was seen near the radiant and the other was closer to the Moon near the Pisces constellation (which was almost missed as we were trying to keep our back to the Moon). While we were looking hard to see them we did notice a satellite passing overhead, which was just as exciting for us! We may not have seen 100 or even 30 per hour, but it was just as marvelous and delightful. I hope to catch some more throughout the week. Looks like you had a nice relaxing night in your lawn chair! 🙂


    1. astrobob

      Hi Mel,
      Sounds like you had a wonderful night. Glad to hear it and thanks for sharing your observations. I just went out without any expectations and took it easy. It was relaxing indeed. I kept the camera near me on a tripod with an electronic cable release and shot photos one after another: 30 seconds, ISO 500, f/2.8.

  2. MJ

    Nice wood pile A*Bob! I saw a handful at dusk, just before the moon starting washing out the sky. Very long screamers across the apex of the sky, all from the NE radiant. Hoped to awake after midnight, but zonked. Good sleep for tonight.

  3. Tim Reyes

    I spent about 30 to 45 minutes looking last night (13th, 00:00 PST) and the night before at midnight PST. My impression with this modest time spent is that it peaked on the 12th and not last night. Whew, from Silicon Valley, light pollution is bad atop a full moon but the bright perseids are still visible.

  4. Edward O'Reilly

    Hi Bob.Here in New Brunswick,Canada we saw about 20 meteors over 2 1/2 hours.Among these were 5-6 fairly bright ones and 2-3 of these were very bright(about the magnitude of Venus).So it was definitely quality over quantity! All in all,it was a pretty good event.Too bad the full moon had to intrude-won’t be sorry to see the ‘supermoon’ wane!

    1. astrobob

      While 20 doesn’t sound like much on the face of it, you saw more than many. I share your feelings right now about the supermoon as I’m eager for dark skies to return for Milky Way and comet viewing.

  5. Wayne

    I saw many more than I expected with a super-gibbous moon. Between 9:45 and 10:20 CDT on the 12th, I counted more than twenty from my backyard in Winneconne, WI (near Oshkosh). Many of them were negative magnitude with the brightest at least -10. Very impressive. Several had long persistent trains. The meteors I saw included a couple of Delta Aquariids and one Kappa Cygnid that made a nice slow pass almost directly overhead. After grabbing a beverage I saw only a handful more between 10:30 and 11:00. Too bad a work life has to interfere with my astronomy avocation. If it wouldn’t have been a work night, I would have been laying on the back deck of my boat in a dark spot on the lake until dawn or until my sleeping bag was covered in dew.

    I really enjoy your blog and articles on Universe Today. Keep up the great work.

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