It was early August, which means the annual Perseid meteor shower is active and it is poised to peak. Perseids are among the finest, brightestAnd it looks like we can now use them more than ever to add a little surprise and distraction to the rather bleak times we’re going through.
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, pebbles and other cosmic debris hit our atmosphere, burning into short streaks of light and sometimes even fireball streaks 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 to find Perseids in the evening as late as possible, but still before the moon rises at your location. 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 suppress the moon by placing yourself next to a building, tree or something else that keeps some of those moonlight out of your retina.
The Moon will begin to completely disappear after mid-month and even though the Perseids have passed their heyday, they are still active and visible. This shower is at the top half of the peak with a completely dark sky which could equate to the total peak with the bright moon, so don’t think 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 can take about 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, 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 be an advanced meteor detector, 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’re still dealing with the unpredictability of nature, so the results will be different.
Arguably the best part of Perseids each year are the stunning photographs we get from talented astrophotographers spending long nights outside.
As always, if you take any beauties yourself, feel free to share them with me on Twitter or Instagram @EricCMack.