The Perseids meteor shower, one of the best celestial shows of the year, will have to compete with a nearly full moon this week.
The shower will peak Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. The issue is the waning gibbous moon that will be rising about the same time.
The Perseids typically produce 60-100 meteors per hour at its peak. It will be a good thing the shower is known for producing a large number of bright meteors, those might be the only ones visible.
This meteor shower is caused as the Earth moves through debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862.
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The shower runs annually from July 17-Aug. 24.
The best viewing opportunities will be at a location as far from city lights as possible, and from midnight to about two hours before dawn. While the meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, they can appear anywhere in the sky.
Mount Rainier National Park offers a number of good spots. The hairpin turn at Sunrise Point in the park’s northeast corner is a popular destination, with fairly large unobstructed views. Another option is the Kautz Creek parking area. The mountain might block some of the light from the rising moon. The parking area at Reflection Lakes would be another alternative.
Other options include Penrose Point, and Joemma Beach state parks (you’ll need to camp because the day-use areas are closed at night), the Yelm Prairie area, Mima Mounds near Littlerock and the stretch along old state Route 99 between Tenino and Interstate 5.
If you are going to be out, be sure to take a comfortable chair or a sleeping bag to on which to lie. Bring extra clothing and blankets to stay warm, as well as some snacks and beverages. It wouldn’t hurt to bring some bug spray as well.
Don’t worry about bringing binoculars. The meteors are so spread out, and fast, naked-eye viewing is the way to go.
Of course, viewing opportunities will be dependent on cloud cover that night. So far, the long-range forecast seems to be cooperating.