This weekend, the night sky will offer a spectacular display during what is considered the peak of the Perseid meteor shower.
The annual spectacle, formed by the burning up of tiny rock fragments as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere from space, is named after the portion of sky from which the meteors seem to emanate: the Constellation of Perseus.
In reality, the sand-grain-sized rock fragments that form the shower originate from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last came within proximity of Earth in 1992. Although it will be another 110 years until the comet next passes Earth, our planet annually passes through the dusty debris field that the comet leaves in its wake, causing the natural phenomenon.
This year, the shower is predicted to be even more prolific than usual, and in northern latitudes, if perfect weather conditions prevail, people can expect to witness up to 200 meteors per hour.
Chris Cooke of the Cayman Islands Astronomical Society advises spectators to “find a dark, north-facing area to best experience the meteor shower.”
The night sky will be at its darkest after the moon sets – at 1:44 a.m. on Saturday, and 2:33 a.m. on Sunday. The meteors should be visible, in declining numbers, through to Aug. 24.