Most people spend their lives waiting to see a shooting star, what if I told you there’s a night where you could see close to 100 of them? For anyone that hasn’t camped out to watch a meteor shower, the Perseids peaking from August 12-13th are a great place to start!
How can I view it?
Simply go somewhere with minimal light pollution (see map) the night of August 12-13 from Midnight to 5 am local time and just look up for a few hours.
More Details Please!
Change up your normal Sunday funday routine and turn it into one celebrating nature and quality time. A great way to enjoy the Perseids is making a camping trip out of it! Gather up some friends and head out somewhere with darker skies for the weekend. Check out this map to find spots near you with minimal light pollution. While the Perseids will peak on Sunday night this year, there will be plenty of meteors in the nights before and after the 12th, so you’re guaranteed to spot a few over the course of the weekend.
Why not take the time to learn the constellations in the night sky! The Perseids will look like they’re shooting from the Perseus constellation. Check out SkyView or Star Walk 2) for some easy to use apps to help you locate the constellation. Both offer an augmented reality feature which identifies the constellations as you point your phone at them for easy spotting and night mode to apply a red filter to your screen (to preserve night vision!).
Want to take a break from technology? No problem, simply look up and enjoy. The night sky is big, but aiming your sight towards the center of any portion will give you a great approximation without a star map. Still need a flashlight to get around? Think about purchasing a red light flashlight to preserve that beautiful night vision.
Perseids Lightning Round
Visibility:Great! (pending weather). The moon will be a little waxing crescent and hence will not light up the skies too much making for great visibility.
Where: Better conditions in the Northern Hemisphere, but visible from all over the world.
Comet Source: The meteors appear from the debris from the Swift–Tuttle comet. Most debris radiates from the Perseus constellation in the night sky which is why it’s called the Perseids.
Frequency:About 80 meteors per hour
What is a meteor shower exactly?
In short, it’s when particles (usually left over from a comet) enter the Earth’s atmosphere and usually burn up. These particles seem to radiate from the same point in the sky. The bright tail that you see is actually the glowing hot air caused by friction behind the comet entering our atmosphere.
Just like the earth has it’s own orbit, so do comets like the Swift-Tuttle. While the Swift-Tuttle comet has an orbit around the sun of 133 years, just like our footprints, it leaves pieces of it through our solar system to grace us in the form of meteor showers. Yearly, Earth passes through this comet’s path (just like the seasons!) and gets the lovely surplus of lots of shooting stars in one night.
The above is not part of the Perseids meteor shower, but a great capture of two meteors at once! Check out some of Tom’s other work.
Happy wishing upon stars everyone!