• Abigail Hall

How to watch the Perseid meteors this weekend

Originally published by Wichita Eagle, August 7, 2019.

The brightest meteor shower of the year is underway, but the moon may steal part of the show.

The Perseids meteor shower is estimated to peak in the evening on Monday, Aug. 12 until dawn on Tuesday, but with a full moon approaching, it may be hard to see the shower, experts say.

Viewing may be better this weekend. Or for a moon-free viewing experience, try watching the sky the mornings before peak, around 3 to 6 a.m. Aug. 9-11.

The best place for viewing the shower is a dark place, such as Lake Afton, Flint Hills or in the countryside, said Fred Gassert, chairman of the board of Lake Afton Public Observatory.

“You don’t need a telescope,” Gassert said. “You just need a blanket and (to) look up — and be patient.”

The Perseids meteors all come from a single point in front of the constellation Perseus. If you don’t know where the constellation is, just observe the sky and follow the meteors to their origin.

The Perseids meteor shower is caused by Earth’s orbit through the Comet Swift-Tuttle’s path. The peak of the shower occurs when Earth passes through the most dense area of the comet’s path. The comet is the largest-known object to pass by the Earth, and patient stargazers can see as many as 60 shooting stars an hour.

Gassert said meteor-watchers are invited to spread out their blankets and lawn chairs in the field near the observatory for free.

“We can talk to anyone who wants to come out and look...about the meteors and what to look for,” Gassert said.

Lake Afton Public Observatory is located at 25000 W. 39th St. S., Goddard, north of Lake Afton. The observatory is open to the public Saturday and Sunday from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Admission to the building is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors ages 65 and older and $4 for youth ages 5-13. A family pass is $20.

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