2016 Perseid Shower

The annual Perseid meteor shower occurs when debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle intercepts the Earth at a high velocity (59 km/s, 133,000 mph). This debris is somewhat diffuse, so we see activity for many days on either side of the peak. Like most meteor showers, this is named for the constellation its members appear to originate in: Perseus.

Shower Summary

2016 Perseids CompositeThis is a composite image of 167 Perseid meteors collected on the peak evening of August 11/12. Since the images were collected over many hours, the radiant of the shower is not in a fixed location. However, because most of the meteors occurred between 1 am and 5 am, and because the radiant's high declination means it doesn't move fast, most of the meteors appear to point back to the same general area of the sky - just above the left center of the image. Note also that meteors farther from the radiant tend to make longer trails, since they have a smaller component of their velocity towards the camera. This year the Earth encountered several unusually dense Perseid debris trails, approximately doubling the meteor count from most years.

All of the meteors in this composite are Perseids or sporadics (and most of the sporadics are also Perseids that were not unambiguously identified as such). Several showers are currently active (Alpha Capricornids, Southern Delta Aquarids, Kappa Cygnids), but meteors from these are not shown.

The southwest monsoon pattern is currently active. There were thunderstorms until after midnight, which reduced the number of meteors captured. The Moon did not introduce any interference this year.

Long string-like images are stars or planets captured as they traveled across the sky over many hours. Bright star trails are evident for Capella, Aldebaran, Deneb, Vega, and Altair.

Selected Fireball Videos

Perseid Frequency

2016 Perseid Distribution, Daily

This graph plots the distribution of 167 meteors brighter than magnitude 2 on the peak evening.


© Copyright 2016, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.