Bob Riha Jr / Getty Images
If you are tired of watching TV during the pandemic, Mother Nature has an alternative. All you have to do is go out around 2am on Wednesday morning and dawn local time, lie on your back and look up at the sky. Meteors and Perseid meteor shower fires should be running.
NASA says it is “one of the best meteor shows” of the year. This is due to the large number of meteors – 50 to 100 meteors to catch per hour, as well as their fires – larger, brighter bursts of light and color that last more than an average meteor belt.
The popularity of Perseids also has to do with the season. Summer temperatures make for pleasant viewing conditions: The American Meteorological Association says there are stronger meteor showers, but they appear in the northern hemisphere during the colder parts of the year.)
The brightness of the moon, which rises around midnight, will reduce the number of visible meteors to 15 to 20 per hour, although this is still a meteor every 3 minutes or so.
Perseids are best seen in the Northern Hemisphere. You do not need a telescope and you do not need to choose a corner of the sky – they are everywhere.
But you need time to cooperate. A cloudy night sky means you will not see anything.
Perseid meteors are the result of space debris left behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years. The earth passes through these comet dust trails every July and August, causing debris to collide with the atmosphere and disintegrate into fiery streams.
This particular bath gets its name because meteors seem to be coming from a point in the sky precisely from the constellation Perseus.
Although NASA says no special equipment is needed, its meteor maneuvers have some suggestions for improving your viewing experience. They recommend spending half an hour outside to let your eyes adjust in the dark – and avoiding bright lights like a phone screen.
The American Meteorological Association advises looking from a darker area and adjusting your gaze about halfway up in the sky, as more activity is visible at lower altitudes. He also suggests a viewing window for at least an hour as these celestial screens are “significantly variable”.
“One can observe 10 minutes and see no activity at all!” said “Just a few minutes later, several meteors may appear almost simultaneously.”
Although early Wednesday is the prime time for Perseid meteors, both NASA and AMS say viewers may be able to see some showers outside that window – potentially earlier on Wednesday night, as well as on the days leading up and out of peak.
“Midnight to dawn every morning the week before or after should produce some meteors,” NASA said.
And if you can not see this show live, there are video alternatives.
As Space.com reported, NASA’s All-Sky Fireball Network has already captured footage of Perseid meteors leaking across the sky over the weekend.
And there is one live broadcast of the meteor shower, weather permitting, from a camera at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., from about 8 a.m. on Tuesday at the CDT Tuesday through Wednesday morning.