By Jim Hulen, North Myrtle Beach Online
August 9, 2012 North Myrtle Beach, SC - During mid August from the 11th through the 12th, the Earth will pass though some comet dust producing spectacular meteor showers. The dust cloud is the debris of comet Swift–Tuttle ejected by the comet traveling on its 130-year orbit. Swift-Tuttle last past this way in 1992 and will return in 2122. Most of the dust in the cloud today is around a thousand years old.
It is the parent body of the Perseid meteor shower, perhaps the best shower of the year and often peaks at 50 or more meteors per hour in a dark sky – some so bright they cast shadows.
The Perseid meteor shower will begin to be visible August 11 and stay observable through August12. These swift-moving meteors start to streak across the nighttime sky by mid to late evening. As evening deepens into late night, the number of meteors starts to increase. The intensity picks up all the more after midnight, and the greatest numbers of meteors typically bombard the sky in the dark hours just before dawn.
On any of those mornings, moonlight shouldn’t be so overwhelming as to ruin the show. As the angle the earth takes through the Swift-Tuttle cloud favors the northern latitudes, observers at North Myrtle Beach will be privileged with as many as 40 to 50 Perseid meteors per hour.
Find a dark, open spot on the beach away from pesky artificial lights, sprawl out comfortably on a reclining lawn chair and enjoy the peak night of the Perseid shower. While they radiate from a point in the constellation, Perseus the Hero, you don’t need to know Perseus to watch the shower because the meteors appear in all parts of the sky The meteors will fall most abundantly from about 2 a.m. until dawn on Sunday, August 12.