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.