The annual Perseid Meteor Shower will make its appearance in the night sky starting this weekend – with possibly up to 50-100 meteoroids shooting through the sky per 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.
The Perseids, which produces more fireballs than any other annual meteor shower, will be particularly good this year owing to an early-setting crescent Moon after midnight. The peak of the shower will occur Aug. 11-12 and 12-13.
According to Bill Cooke, head of US space agency NASA’s meteoroid office, the best time for viewing will be the hours just before dawn on Monday and Tuesday.
“Go outside, allow about 30-45 minutes for your eyes to dark adapt. Lie flat on your back (sleeping bag or lawn chair) and look straight up: take in as much of the sky as you can,” he told the AFP.
“My experience is that most people who are disappointed viewing meteors go out for only a few minutes expecting to see something: this will work only for major outbursts not normal meteor showers. So be prepared to spend at least a couple of hours outside; don’t expect to see many before midnight.”
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.
Check out a cool video of the Perseids in action below.