The Perseids: Best Meteor Shower of the Year

How and When to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseid Meteor Shower

Share: 

Rate this Post: 

Average: 4 (78 votes)

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, which provides some cloud insurance. Between August 11 and August 13 is usually the best time to see this meteor shower. Check out the Almanac Meteor Shower Calendar to see when other prominent showers will occur. 

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.


Raining Perseids! Photo Credit: NASA

In 2017, the August Full Moon occurs on August 7, which means that the Moon will still be 65 to 84 percent full during the Perseid’s peak viewing nights. The meteors will still be visible (assuming good weather), but try to angle yourself away from the Moon for the best view!

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!


Perseids Power! Photo Credit: NASA

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.

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)!

Tags

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

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.

viewing a solar eclipse

There is a helpful article in The 2017 Old Farmer’s Almanac titled “2017’s Greatest Spectacle” by our astronomy editor, Bob Berman. In it, he describes what to expect during the 2017 event,  and tips on how to view the solar eclipse safely. On Almanac.com, we offer solar eclipse glasses for watching the eclipse:
https://store.almanac.com/product/solar-eclipse-glasses-set-4?list=searc...

You might also be interested in the following:
http://www.almanac.com/content/next-total-eclipse-sun

Safety precautions:
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/safety2.html

Pinhole project:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/how-to-make-a-pinhole-camera/

Rain?

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.

Bob you are very incorrect with your "facts". June can rejoice

Actually, Bob, you are very wrong with your statement about found meteorites! You say "3-12 have been found since 1780", but then advise June to purchase one from eBay where "sellers are offering them fairly inexpensively", a complete contradiction of statements there- because if only 3-12 have been found since 1780, then the people on eBay would not have any to sell, now would they? And a real meteor wouldn't be selling cheap on eBay, as they sell for $1000 per gram! But if only 3-12 had been found as you stated they would sell for much much more! Plus meteors are NOT that uncommon to find to date 40,000 have been found and catalogued, while countless more are found by normal people like June, who know they have meteors, found on their own property and legally theirs to keep and not report to be catalogued, they are not counted in that 40,000 total! Plus there are millions upon millions more scattered across the planet, because we are bombarded by space debris constantly, most falls into the oceans as they cover a bigger area of the Earth's surface, the rest fall onto land, and as they have fallen onto the planet for millions and even billions of years they're even buried in the ground, still to be discovered! But they can be just lying on top of the ground if you just know where to look and what you're looking for! There are even TV shows dedicated to the men and women who go out in search of and find meteors! They use both metal detectors to search out older ones buried under the surface, and visually search area with just their eyes as they go into areas where they've used Doppler radar to track the trajectory of incoming meteors and their debris field upon entry. Even I have found tiny pieces of meteors after a shower! The 2001 Leonids that produced the most amazing shower I have ever witnessed left me a good sized collection! As we spent all night outside watching until dawn we could hear the pieces of meteors at times hitting the roof of the house behind us, sounded like i you had thrown a handful of pebbles on the roof randomly, they even hit the top of the truck we were in the bed of and at times we could feel them hit the blanket we were laying under- but they did no physical damage to us because by the time the had burned up way in the atmosphere to being extremely tiny in size, then fell long distances through the cooler atmosphere and worked their way to the surface their speed had slowed and they were no longer hot. When the sun came up the next day we got old car stereo speakers out of the garage and used the magnets and went around the yard collecting them. So June, please continue to collect, keep, admire and love and enjoy your collection of meteors! And know that the one thing that Ben got right is that they are not radioactive. Space junk, such as a satellite that renters and breaks apart, or like pieces of the space shuttle Columbia that broke up on return, or any man made object we have sent to space that returns to the surface, WILL require caution to be taken, as those things and their debris can hold a danger of being radioactive- because there is a chance that the fuel cells used on the space craft itself could have been powered by a nuclear fuel of some type, and because the space probes spend an extended amount of time in orbit around Earth in a zone high in radioactive material and bombardment for extended periods of time, which can penetrate and soak up radioactive materials that it can bring with it when it renters the atmosphere. But meteors pass through that part of space around the planet at a very fast speed, and the outer layers of the meteor is burned away when it hits the atmosphere and lights up as it does so, removing any radioactive materials that it has been in contact with, so that by the time it reaches the surface it is safe to handle. But as far as meteor finds they find meteors in deserts, across Antarctica, where are the easiest places to find them because those areas are lacking in the number of native terrestrial rocks around, making them easier to find in those areas, but they can fall and be found ANYWHERE! Just as we have discovered meteors that came from an impact that blasted pieces off of Mars, into space that made its way into space and then to Earth where it landed in Antarctica and preserved in the ice! So June can have all her meteors and enjoy them! And be certain what she has thanks to scientific facts that can be verified by any scientific publication or source, including the Science Journal

No, this is not correct, Adam

Sorry, hate to contradict any reader, but Adam is incorrect. First the article does NOT say that “3-12 meteorites have ever been found.” Rather, the article states that 3 to 12 have been found IN EACH STATE since 1780. Big difference! In truth, the many meteorites for sale almost all come from large ‘falls’ in other countries, such as the famous, gargantuan “Campo” meteorite field 500 miles northwest of Buenos Aires in Argentina. By contrast, exactly 12 have been found in all of New York State in its entire history. That’s why June’s assumption that she keeps finding them near her house is so very unlikely.

Adam imagines that he found lots of them following the 2001 Leonid meteor shower, and heard them striking roof tops. Maybe he heard sleet, or acorns dropping down. Who knows? He certainly didn’t hear meteorites hitting roof tops for two reasons. First, the Leonid meteor shower cannot produce a single meteorite anywhere! That’s because those meteoroids are all ice particles, debris from the ice-ball comet Tempel-Tuttle. This material is too fragile to ever survive its passage through the atmosphere, and become a meteorite.

The other reason Adam’s report is impossible, is that meteorites impact rooftops at about 300 miles per hour, so that they don’t bounce off, but penetrate them. Usually, they then also penetrate the next floor of the house too.  —Bob Berman

We hope other readers who come here to learn about meteor showers find this post (and response) helpful; it’s important for us to share accurate, useful information.

 

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!

Keep Your New Garden Growing

keepgardengrowingcover.jpgTop 10 Veggies.
Almanac Editors Tips- water, feed, pest control, harvest
 

 

You will also be subscribed to our Almanac Companion Newsletter

solar_array.jpg

Solar Energy Production Today

484.90 kWh

Live data from the solar array at The Old Farmer's Almanac offices in Dublin, NH.