COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The annual Perseid meteor shower is considered to be one of the best celestial shows of the year, peaking late Thursday night and Friday night. The best view will be after midnight.

A mitigating factor will be a bright full moon (9:36 p.m.), also known as the Sturgeon Moon. The name comes from Native American experiences with the giant sturgeon readily caught in the Great Lakes region. This will be the last supermoon of 2022, which is a full moon when the Moon is at least 90% within its closest approach to Earth (perigee). 

Sturgeon Moon through some patchy clouds and light fog on Aug. 11

Earth transits through the debris trail left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle as it orbits through the inner solar system at the same time every year. The combination of cometary dust, along with tiny fragments of rock and ice, called meteoroids, travels 133,200 mph, before burning up in Earth’s upper atmosphere and creating faint streaks of light (meteors).

Meteors are best seen in dark, rural skies, though an occasional spectacular fireball adds to the nighttime display. The meteors will appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus in the northern part of the sky.

Comet Swift-Tuttle has a nucleus of 16 miles, passing the sun at a rapid speed while completing a full orbit once every 133 years. The last pass near Earth occurred in 1992.

Weather conditions

The most important element in viewing any meteor shower is sky conditions. Cloud cover and light fog often diminish or block the view in Ohio.

Tonight and Friday night the sky will be partly cloudy to mostly clear over Ohio, as drier air works in from the northwest and high pressure builds south from the Great Lakes.

Where to see the meteor showers?

Under ideal conditions, we can see up to 50-60 meteors per hour during the height of the Perseids, but moonlight will limit the count to perhaps 10-20 in an optimally dark sky.

The best way to view the meteor shower is to scout out a safe location well away from city lights. The meteors will emanate from the northeastern sky in the vicinity of the constellation Perseus.

Make sure you allow yourself up to a half-hour for your eyes to adjust to the nighttime sky and just focus on a fixed point.