As the second-brightest meteor shower, the Perseid phenomenon originates from the particles left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. According to Shweta Kulkarni, director of AstronEra and fellow of the Royal Astronomy Society of England, the shower is named after the constellation Perseus. “At its peak, the shower will have 100 meteors per hour, which is best visible midnight onwards. This particular shower might have fireballs because of the chemical composition of the particles. You can expect green, red, and even blue showers,” she said.
This annual event is highly anticipated by local astro enthusiasts, but this year, many are worried due to less-than-ideal weather conditions. “Typically for such events, our members rent a farmhouse near Vellore and go there to watch the shower. The conditions there are usually much better. Now, because of the shutdown, that is not possible. However, we are having unofficial watchings with just a few friends on our terraces,” said Sivasubramanyam, co-founder, Chennai Astronomy Club.
Both Kulkarni and Sivasubramanyam suggested avoiding using cell phones and other gadgets before stepping out to see the shower, as the light affects visibility of the meteor shower. “Find one constellation to focus on, and you’ll be able to see the showers. Don’t move around too much as then you might miss it due to the larger field of view. If you know where Perseus is, try to focus there, else finding any one constellation will suffice,” said Kulkarni.
The Geminids meteor shower, the brightest one with a 120 meteors per hour rate, will also be visible in December this year, and will be much easier to spot locally.