The Perseids: Best Meteor Shower of the Year

Perseid Meteor Shower


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Everyone loves shooting stars and meteor showers. The Perseid meteor shower of August 11 to 13 is traditionally the best meteor shower of the year.

The famous Perseid meteors peak over two nights, providing cloud insurance. See the Almanac Meteor Shower Guide. August 11 is usually the best time to see the meteor shower.

Some years, the Moon is absent and this makes for especially dark skies and great meteor viewing. Check your local Moon phases for this year.  The fuller the Moon, the more glare and the harder to see the meteors.

It is easiest to see meteors when you can see lots of stars as well. If it’s very hazy or else overcast, you can try viewing a meteor shower on the second night. It offers slightly more “falling stars,” but with fewer brilliant specimens.

The Perseid Meteor Showers

Perseid Meteor Shower Viewing Tips

Your backyard is perfect if you’re away from urban light pollution and turn off all your house lights. If you live in a city, this is the time to visit those friends in the country.

  • Be comfortable. Spread out blankets or lounge chairs.
  • You need a big swath of unobstructed sky. Don’t stare through little breaks between trees. Find unlit track or soccer fields, cemeteries, lakesides, and get into the open. If you live in Montana or Kansas, your entire state qualifies.
  • On either night, there will be 15 an hour before 11 PM, and the best direction to face is northeast.
  • From midnight onward, the sky should explode with 50 to 60 shooting stars an hour, and any part of the heavens should be great to watch.

You can easily go five minutes seeing none at all, so don’t get discouraged and quit. During another random five minute period, you might catch 10 of them. The trick is to keep watching. Don’t keep looking at your companions while chatting with them. Don’t merely glance up now and then. Your eyes must be married to the sky.

Photo Credit: NASA. Raining Perseids!

Photo Credit: NASA. Perseids Power!

Perseid Meteor Facts

Some quick, cool facts about the meteors?

  • Most Perseid meteors are the size of apple seeds.
  • All travel at 37 miles a second. That’s 80 times faster than a bullet.
  • Their distance from you is always between 60 and 100 miles—even the brilliant ones that seem to come down in the next field. One in three leave behind glowing trains that linger for a second or two like Cheshire Cat smiles.

Find out more facts about meteors and meteorites here.

It’s the best, most romantic “cheap date” ever. Or if you have kids, you’ll give them an experience they’ll never forget.

~ By  Bob Berman

About This Blog

Welcome to “This Week’s Amazing Sky,” the Almanac’s blog on stargazing and astronomy. Wondering which bright objects you’re seeing in the night sky? Want to learn about a breathtaking sight coming up? Bob Berman, longtime and famous astronomer for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, will help bring alive the wonders of our universe. From the beautiful stars and planets to magical auroras and eclipses, we’ll cover everything under the Sun (and Moon)!


Reader Comments

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Total solar eclipse next August,

Is there any special viewing tips for viewing the solar eclipse. How do i make a viewing box, i made one in 79 in elemrntary, but cant recall.


Ack! Our viewing may be interrupted by clouds and/or rain in the Northeast. Add 100% humidity and it's agony.

The Comet on my birthday

Ever since I was little, I noticed that the comets would spray across the sky on my birthday. I always felt special. I would say that my ancestors were wishing me a Happy Birthday. My mother in law B'Day was Aug.11th. I still try to see the light show. But, I live close to Chicago, so I don't get a really clear site. I still watch.

I have a nice collection of

I have a nice collection of meteors that I have collected over the years. I am very lucky to live high up in elevation and my yard is all concrete. After they land they standout on the white pavement. My husband says they carry radiation so I have them kept deep in a box and in the furthest corner of my home. I love holding them. Its a good feeling. Hope to find some in the morning.

June, I love your letter, and

June, I love your letter, and am hesitant to say anything that diminishes your joy. But -- there's almost no chance you've found actual meteorites. They're so rare, that in a typical state, only a total of 3 - 12 have been found since 1780. Nor are they ever radioactive. But if you like meteorites, some ebay sellers are currently offering them fairly inexpensively. Some websites will show you how to positively identify them. It's a very common issue -- finding unusually dense or odd rocks and thinking they're from space. In a nutshell, most actual meteorites will pull on a magnet, have a dark coating, and have dimples in them that look like thumb prints pressed into the stone.

I'm so excited to see this

I'm so excited to see this tonight!! I'm gonna be so tired at work tomorrow but know it will be well worth it! :D

My friend and I was out last

My friend and I was out last night watching the meteor showers from 12 am till 5 am and we seen 163 of them and some of the most beautiful ones i ever have seen So yes get your chair and keep your eyes to the skies...And most all have fun We do it every time in the winter so cold our faces freezing bit the display is so worth the little bit of cold

Yes, we had large crowds

Yes, we had large crowds oohing and aahing at the great display Tuesday night. And Wednesday night's meteors were just as good, if not better. Hopefully everyone had clear skies for at least one of those two nights.

You guys need to check your

You guys need to check your facts and get your information correct. I drove an hour and 30 minutes away from the city last night after reading your article. According to MSNBC, the meteor shower doesn't peak until TONIGHT. The 12th, not the 11th. Thanks a lot. I won't trust anything else you guys post.

I beg to differ. They were

I beg to differ. They were better on the 12th, but we watched the Perseids all week and the 11th brought plenty of action our way as they lit up the sky. A great show. If you check the Almanac Meteor Shower Guide, it says the range is the 11th to the 13th.

Very strange that you didn't

Very strange that you didn't see any Tuesday night. As you can see from the previous letter -- people saw tons of them Tuesday night. Wednesday night was great too. We said you'd see meteors either night, and that's exactly what happened. Tuesday night had a greater percentage of brilliant ones, while Wednesday had 20% more, overall. We had big happy crowds Tuesday night at a National Historic Landmark in New York State, where hundreds of people kept shouting with each shooting star!

Will this be visible in

Will this be visible in Southeastern Spain? Marbella-Malaga area?

I grew up with the farmers

I grew up with the farmers almanac. Great publication

Thanks so much!

Thanks so much!

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