Perseids over Florida

Not fond of crowded beaches, congested amusement parks or trail parades, my wife and I have taken few summer vacations. We prefer off-season trips, when rates are lower and, more importantly, when some degree of solitude is possible.

Nevertheless, we're off to Florida this week, partly to check on our condo and primarily to visit our son and attend a ceremony at his medical school. We are, of course, looking forward to the latter and will no doubt enjoy the beach walks, despite the hot, summer weather. A tropical storm would be interesting but, in this El Nino year, the Atlantic basin has been rather quiet.

I do hope to catch the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks from August 11-13 each year. Remnants of the Swift-Tuttle comet (which orbits the sun every 130 years) the Perseid meteors are generally abundant; more than 100 per hour can be seen if a bright moon or city lights do not obscure the view. Since Longboat Key is primarily residential and a good distance from the urban glow of Bradenton and Sarasota, we might see a large number of these "shooting stars." Astronomers report that the Perseid shower will actually intensify over the coming decades as the orbits of the comet and the Earth are more closely aligned.