Cancel your weekend plans, Earthlings. One of the best meteor showers of the year, the Perseid meteor shower, is going to occur this weekend on August 12th. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to see upwards of 70 meteors per hour, so here’s how you can watch.
According to NASA, this year’s Perseid meteor shower will be especially impressive because it takes place during a new moon—the darker the skies, the more ideal canvas for meteors. What’s more, the peak of the Perseids (aka the best time to view the shower) is longer than most other meteor showers’ because it will take Earth three weeks or longer to travel through the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. The meteors we’ll see spray across the sky during the Perseid shower are actually flecks of dust and debris from the comet.
This year, the Perseids’ peak begins at 4 p.m. EST on Sunday, August 12th, and lasts until 4 a.m. EST on Monday, August 13th.
NASA notes that observers in the mid-northern latitudes (which includes those of us in North America, Europe, and most of Asia) will have the best views of the Perseids in the northern skies. The meteors are called Perseids because they look like they are radiating from the constellation Perseus, which appears in the northern sky soon after sunset.
Some Perseids will be so bright that even those of us located in cities will be able to see them. But to get the best bang for your buck, get yourself to a location that isn’t affected by light pollution. The darker, the better.
And if you can, wait until after midnight on the 12th to head outside and look up. You’re guaranteed to see more meteors in the early morning hours than you are during the evening.
NASA predicts that observers could see 60 to 70 meteors per hour during the Perseid shower’s peak.
But if you miss the Perseid peak, don’t worry. You may still get to catch a few stray meteors shooting through the night sky up until August 24th.
Keep an eye on the skies, space cadets. It’s going to be a remarkable show.