Science

When Is the Perseid Meteor Shower? How to Watch the Year's Best Light Show

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The Perseid meteor shower—perhaps the most popular light show of the year—is upon us again, and in 2018 it will be even better than usual with no bright moon to contend with.

So find somewhere open and dark with a great view of the sky and settle in for two nights of spectacular stargazing.

“This year the moon will be near new moon, it will be a crescent, which means it will set before the Perseid show gets underway after midnight,” NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com. “The moon is very favorable for the Perseids this year, and that’ll make the Perseids probably the best shower of 2018 for people who want to go out and view it.”

Although you can see the Perseids from mid-July every year, they reach their peak in August. This year, the shower will peak on the nights of August 11-12 and August 12-13. Stay up late into the early morning hours to catch the best display.

Keen northern hemisphere stargazers might be able to spy 60-70 meteors zipping through the sky per hour on these magical nights, Space.com reported.

But if you don’t want to stay up late, you may still see some shooting stars, as the fireballs tear through the sky from mid-to-late evening, EarthSky reported. You might even catch an “earthgrazer” meteor in the evening: A slow, colorful meteor that passes horizontally through the sky, the website stated.

It’s best to watch a meteor shower with just the naked eye as binoculars and backyard telescopes will narrow your field of view. The Perseids all appear to come from a point in front of the Perseus constellation, hence the name. But they’ll pop up all over the sky on a clear night. National Geographic recommends facing northeast. 

Find somewhere dark—open fields in the countryside or perhaps a big park if you live in a city—and let your eyes adjust to the night. Try and find a spot without too many objects like trees or buildings blocking the sky.

Although it is the height of summer for many parts of the world, it’s probably best to bring a blanket, a pillow and some water (or coffee!) as you may be gazing at the sky for hours.

Meteor showers take place when the Earth passes through comets’ trails of debris. This space rubble glitters in the sky as it burns up in our planet’s atmosphere. The Perseids are debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle.

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