NOTTINGHAM, MD – The Perseid meteor shower, one of the most-anticipated meteor showers of 2019, peaks on Monday night, but the nearly-full moon might put a damper on things this year.
Spectators can expect to see just 10-15 Perseids per hour, or maybe slightly more on the peak, which occurs overnight tonight (August 12-13), according to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke.
Years without moonlight typically see much higher rates, and in outburst years (such as in 2016) the rate can be between 150-200 meteors an hour, according to Space.com.
“Unfortunately, the moon will be very close to full on the night of the peak, which will wash out the fainter Perseids,” Cooke told Space.com. “The Perseids are rich in fireballs, so you’ll still see Perseids; you just won’t see the show you’ve seen on nights when the moon has not been around.”
“It won’t be a total wash-out, because the Perseids are rich in bright meteors, but the moonlight is going to spoil most of the show,” he added.
To best see the Perseids, go to the darkest possible location and lean back to observe as much sky as possible directly above you. The rates of Perseids visible will increase from about 10 p.m. EDT straight through until dawn, so the later you can look the better.
For a complete list of the best (darkest) spots in Maryland for stargazing, click here.