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A friend sent me an email which appears to be an extract from this Cambridge News article:

A meteor shower astronomers have labelled 'a once in a lifetime opportunity' will take over the sky in August. The upcoming Perseid meteor shower will be the brightest in human history so far, Physics Astronomy reported.

Anyone in the Northern Hemisphere should be able to view the shower on August 12. It is predicted to be so bright that stargazers should be able to catch a glimpse even during the day.

Astronomers believe that a shower this visible won't grace the sky for another 96 years. The Perseid meteor shower, one of the brighter light shows of the year, occurs annually between July 17 and August 24. The shower tends to peak around August 9-13.

However, this article sources its information from the website Physics Astronomy, a blog-type website which posts various articles on astronomical topics. Since Physics Astronomy doesn't seem to be a particularly reputable source, I will take this information with a pinch of salt.

So, is this article true? Will you be able to see the Perseids in the daytime with the naked eye this year?

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    $\begingroup$ Hmm... If you look at this excellent answer you can see that there is certainly some fascinating science that goes into predicting year-to-year variation in meteor showers, but usually the quantity predicted for viewers is something like number per hour visible at a given location, not "brightness". I'd say it's best to ignore any Astronomy and Physics web page that shows advertisements about curing baldness and getting rich quick with this "one weird trick..." $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 31 '17 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ So it sounds like this "once in 100 years" meteor shower was last year then :( $\endgroup$ – Dean Jul 31 '17 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ The source quoted by your link is physics-astronomy.com/2017/07/… which appears to be the personal blog of Umer Abrar and doesn't appear to be a good source. The paper itself appears to be fairly small and local en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge_News $\endgroup$ – barrycarter Jul 31 '17 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ None of the sources that I would trust suggest that 2017 will be exceptional. In particular, daylight visibility of meteors would be something that I'd expect to give rise to a lot of excitement in astronomical circles, but I have seen none of that. $\endgroup$ – Dr Chuck Jul 31 '17 at 15:58
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To answer the second part of the question:

Will you be able to see the Perseids in the daytime with the naked eye this year?

No. Regular meteor showers (those caused by the Earth passing through the orbit of a comet) have meteors that

... are caused by particles ranging in size from about that of a small pebble down to a grain of sand, and generally weigh less than 1-2 grams.

(source: American Meteor Society website)

Most meteors are about as bright as the brightest stars (magnitude -1) or fainter. Meteor showers do not contain fireballs, which are caused by objects which are way larger (>1kg).

3. Can you see fireballs in daylight, ...

Yes, but the meteor must be brighter than about magnitude -6 to be noticed in a portion of the sky away from the sun, and must be even brighter when it occurs closer to the sun.

(source: American Meteor Society website)

It is predicted to be so bright that stargazers should be able to catch a glimpse even during the day.

So that claim is bogus and you should treat it the same way as a $3 bill.

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There is variation in meteor showers from year to year, but for most showers, the big difference is how bright the moon is. If the moon is up, then it's hard to see many meteors.

The Perseids of 2017 will be rather ruined by the moon. There will be a waning gibbous moon, rising shortly after sunset and staying up for the rest of the night. It will make the sky too bright to see many meteors

2018, with a new moon on the 11th, will be much better.

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  • $\begingroup$ So, no (assuming the moon isn't brighter than the sun) daytime meteor showers are complete hocum? $\endgroup$ – Beta Decay Jul 31 '17 at 21:11
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The Perseids will not be the brightest in recorded human history. The fact-checking website snopes.com has this to say about this false claim:

The reason the web site that originally made this claim cites zero sources is likely due to the fact that there is a complete lack of factual information to support it.

The 2017 Perseid shower won't even be as "bright" as it was last year, let alone in recorded history. Per NASA, the peak hourly rate in 2017 will be about 80% of the peak 2016 rate. Making matters worse, the 2017 shower will be obscured by the Moon. The 2016 rate wasn't the best show in recorded history, either, or even in recent history. The latter honor ("best show in recent history") goes to the 1993 Perseid shower, which occurred a year after the parent comet Swift-Tuttle made a close approach to the Earth. By recent, I mean quite recent. The showers centered around the year 1862 were probably even better than those around 1992.

Meteor showers result from the Earth intersecting the debris trail left behind by a comet. This debris trail is distributed along the comet's orbit, but the distribution is not uniform. The peak concentration in general is close to the comet itself. The distance between the Earth and the comet when the Earth comes closest to the comet's orbit has been increasing since 1992, making the intensity of the Perseid shower decrease rather than increase. The comet will make a very close approach in 2126, resulting in some nice shows for our children's children's children.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, I'm surprised snopes.com picked up on such a minor article $\endgroup$ – Beta Decay Aug 2 '17 at 17:29

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