The shower will peak with the largest number of meteors during the late evening hours of August 11 and the early hours of the morning of August 12 – which coincides with the last phase of the last moon, or a bright crescent.
As soon as evening falls, expect to see a meteor, or a shooting star, floating in the sky every few minutes. Hopefully, the clear sky will allow better viewing of these bright meteors and fireballs.
What are the Perseids?
These attractive meteors are associated with the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. This means that every August, the Earth passes through the comet debris field.
Ice and dust, which accumulate over a thousand years, burn in our atmosphere to create the meteor shower. Perseids exhibit brighter meteors than any other annual meteor shower.
Meteors can be traced to the constellation Perseus, from where they take their name, which will ascend to the northeast sky as the evening passes. From our point of view, meteors seem to come from a single point called “radiation”, but this is because they are moving parallel to each other.
When the radiation is highest in the sky, we will see more meteors. But Earthgrazer meteors, which glide across the Earth’s atmosphere and exhibit long, fiery tails, are visible early in the evening when radiation is low above the horizon.
The meteors themselves are traveling at 132,000 miles per hour, creating vivid streaks of light. These small stones can reach between 3,000 and 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit during this shower.
The comet itself will come extremely close to Earth in a “ready-miss” in 2126. (This is about 14.2 million miles away, so there is no danger.)
How to look
NASA scientists advised that although the shower can be seen at any time after 9pm in your area, the best time to see a meteorite flight would be during the darkest part of the night, in the early hours before dawn, between 2 o’clock in the morning and dawn.
The bright moon will rise around midnight, which changes the peak viewing window, according to NASA. But you can still expect to see a meteor line in the sky about every two minutes.
Patience is important. It may take up to 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust in the dark for optimal vision. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but they look brighter against the darkest sky, which is straight up.
Some meteors have only faint, fast flows. The others are brighter and may appear to float across our sky for a few seconds, leaving a trail of blazing smoke.
The best way to see the meteor shower is by sitting in a lawn chair rolled up or lying on your back and looking up at the sky with a wide view. No special equipment is needed, but if you want the best look, it helps to be as far away from artificial light as possible.
If you live in an urban area, you may want to get a car to avoid city lights, which can make the meteor shower look faint. Scientists from NASA also said that camping abroad could triple the amount of visible meteors.
And don’t forget to grab your camera before you go out. Meteor showers are a great option for time-lapse videos and long exposure photography, allowing your night sky shots to turn into van Gogh-like paintings of this star show.