Take an amazing picture of the Perseids meteor shower for 2020? Tell us! Send images and comments to email@example.com.
If you are planning to spend the night trying to get a picture of tonight’s peak 2020 Meteor shower Perseid, your local sky conditions will play a crucial role in what you see. Will any “shooting stars” be visible? Or will this year’s performance at Perseids be overshadowed by a curtain of clouds?
In general, the western and southern parts of the United States will have the best viewing options, while the weather across the central and eastern states will be much more problematic. You can also check out the Perseid meteor shower live online, with at least four different ads to choose from.
The meteor shower will arrive overnight tonight from late Tuesday to early Wednesday (August 11-12), with online broadcasts passing late Wednesday.
Related: Meteor shower Perseid 2020: When, where and how to see it
Across northern New York England, most of New York State and Pennsylvania, west through the lower Ohio Valley and parts of the Midwest states and Plain centers, a front line will serve as a catalyst for clouds, as well as showers and widespread storms. While the threat of rainfall is likely to diminish after sunset in most places, there may still be some showers that will fall in the late hours of the night, along with scattered to scattered cloud cover (50-75 %), offering only a “fair chance” to see a picture of the Perseids.
Preferably, the region where clouds can cover 75 to 100% of the sky and thus offer poor prospects for meteor observers will be above Upstate New York Central including the Leatherstocking region, so called for unique upholstered leather cabinets from the frontiers, and became famous from the work of author James Fenimore Cooper.
Over much of Florida, widespread shower activity and storms are expected to extend into the afternoon and evening hours in response to abundant humidity and atmospheric instability and a series of weak disturbances that pass. Locally heavy rain and strong, thunderstorms seem possible. No doubt later in the night, most of the shower / storm weather should have ended, but the clouds could have lengthened, obstructing the view for meteor observers.
News: How to watch the Perseid meteor shower of 2020 peaks tonight!
And not every country in the west will have trouble-free weather.
Parts of northern Nevada and northern Utah will be dealing with a confusion zone – the boundary between atmospheric levels between two different airways that can produce enough cloud cover and “dry” storms (storms that produce little or no moisture). And along the immediate Pacific coast from Washington state to southern California, a local marine layer could translate into low cloud cover. But only a short drive, a small road from the shores should provide mostly clear skies.
If we did not mention your part of the country above, your local sky forecast should rate well to excellent with no worse than partly cloudy to clear the sky (see our map). Some of the best states to watch Perseid tonight will be Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Wisconsin, as well as most of the big states of Montana and Texas.
To get the latest updated forecast for your area, Click here to access National Weather Service Forecast Offices in all 50 states, including Puerto Rico and the islands in the Pacific.
That wet moon!
Another problem with this year’s Perseid shower is the Moon, which will be in the final quarter phase and will rise immediately after midnight to create unwanted glow with its light; which is likely to repel some of the weaker meteor belts.
Normally, a single observer looking from a site away from bright lights or many obstacles such as buildings or trees would count 60 to 90 meteors per hour between midnight and the first light of dawn. So how does the moon play in this year’s Perseid show?
We did a check of the Perseid years when the Moon was in a similar phase and its ambient light similarly is repulsive. Meteor rates are usually in the order of about 30 per hour. So expect that after the Moon makes its appearance (undesirable) during the morning sleep hours, the Perseids will appear approximately half to one-third of their normal hourly rate – if you are looking at a glance dark website.
Of course, if you are looking for a suburban location or city, you should expect much lower numbers. We here at Space.com often wish to wish when we see an article or hear a news report on radio or television, promising “up to 90 meteors per hour” for the peak of the Perseid shower, without mentioning any denials about moonlight or bright city lights. Then we hear from people the next day complaining that the Perseids were a bust.
They were not. It’s just a matter of making the right preparations and knowing what to expect from your viewing page. City lights and light pollution can seriously affect the number of meteors you can see in the sky.
Videos: NASA cameras capture early fires from the 2020 Perseid meteor shower
How to View and Predict a Fireball |
If you are planning to spend a night in it, the best equipment you can bring is either a rolled lawn chair or a sleeping bag or blanket spread out on the ground. Do not focus on any part of the sky, but just keep looking around, keeping in mind that the lion part of the meteor will be avoided from outside the northeast, where constellation Perseus will be (hence the name “Perseids”).
Of course, as far as Perseids are concerned, it is not as much as the quality of the meteors. The Perseids have a reputation for occasionally producing extremely bright fire meteors capable of rivaling Jupiter and Venus in brightness and leaving an incandescent vapor path on its doorstep that lasted a few seconds or so.
Sometimes a fireball will end its short flight by exploding silently with an explosion resembles the pop of a lightning bolt or strobe. Such meteors are obviously usually a little and far away, but if you are lucky enough to see even just one of these, it will make your night under the stars more and more valuable.
Good luck and clear skies!
Editor’s note: If you take an amazing photo of the Perseids meteor shower for 2020 and want to share them for a story or photo gallery, send images and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History Magazine, Farmer almanac and other publications. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and in Facebook.