It was early August, and that means the annual Perseid meteor shower is up and running and is about to hit a maximum. Perseids are among the finest, brightest, and it feels like we could use them now more than ever to add a bit of surprise and distraction to these rather bleak times.
This famous showers appear around this time each year when Earth passes through a cloud of debris left behind by the giant comet 109P / Swift-Tuttle. Dust particles, pebbles and other cosmic debris plunge into our atmosphere, burning into short, light streaks and even full fireballs appear occasionally in the night sky.
By 2020, Perseids is expected to reach its peak on August 11 and 12, when the moon is less than half.
The popularity of the shower is a combination of the fact that it is one of the strongest places, with an average of up to 100 meteors visible per hour and coincides with the warm summer nights in the northern hemisphere. The weakened moon is capable of washing away many other visible meteors, but that still leaves a lot to be seen if you make a small plan.
Watching the Perseid meteor shower create a celestial landscape around the world
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In general, a good strategy is to go out in search of Perseids as late as possible in the evening, but still before the moon rises in your place. So in New York, for example, you want as far away from everything light pollution as possible at around 11pm on Tuesday night (peak night) because the moon will rise after about an hour at 12:08 shining. on Wednesday. (You can search for sunsets and moonsets for your location with a website like TimeandDate.com.)
You can also try to stop the moon by placing yourself next to a building, tree or something else that holds some of that moonlight out of your retina.
The moon will begin to disappear completely after the middle of the month, and although Perseids will past the past, they will still be active and visible. This shower at the top half of the sky with a dark sky is quite equivalent to a full top with a bright moon, so don’t think that you right Go out on rush night to catch it
Once you’ve decided on the perfect time and a place with minimal light interference and a wide view of the sky, just lie on your back, letting your eyes adjust and relax. Pillows, blankets, lounge chairs and refreshments make for the ideal experience. It may take about 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, so be sure to be patient. If you follow all my advice, you will definitely see a meteorite.
It doesn’t really matter where in the sky you look, as long as you have a wide view. That said, the Perseids will appear radiating from the constellation Perseus, the Hero. If you want to train to become an advanced meteor discoverer, locate Perseus and try to focus there while you watch. Then try to just look up without focusing anywhere. See if you notice a difference. We are still dealing with the unpredictability of nature, so the results will change.
Arguably the best part of Perseids every year is the beautiful photos we get from talented astrophotographers who spend long nights outside.
As always, if you take any beautiful selfies, please share them with me on Twitter or Instagram @EricCMack.