I have fond memories of sitting in a canoe back during the summer of 1994 with two good friends and watching the Perseid meteor shower stream overhead. It was one of those moments from childhood that stands out as a magical confluence of adolescence, perfect weather, and a shared love of astronomy. To this day, that particular Perseid has yet to be matched.
I’m hoping this year finishes a strong second.
While this annual shower is active starting July 23rd, things really pick up between August 11 & 12 – when over 60-100 bright shooting stars will scream across the sky each hour. It’s caused by the Earth passing through dust debris left by the Comet Swift-Tuttle; which last swept past the planet in 1992.
Now the good news: Unlike last year, the moon will not be a factor in mucking up the opportunity to see some of the more fainter meteors. Here are some additional tips for enjoying the show:
- While the meteors radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus the Hero, you don’t have to know where that is to enjoy it. Just look up. They generally tend to appear in all parts of the sky.
- Get away from light pollution. Jump in the car, pack a midnight snack, some blankets, and get out to the countryside.
- The shower tends to be the most active in the early morning hours – so if you’re into catching sleep first – set the alarm, grab some coffee, and enjoy the show and subsequent sunrise.
- Want to try your luck at snapping some shots of the shower? Check out these handy camera tips.
- It takes between 10-30 minutes for our eyes to truly adapt to darkness and offer the best views of the stars. Using a cell phone or a flashlight without a red filter instantly resets your night vision, so avoid turning anything on once you’ve settled in.
Some cool video of the Perseids in action below.