Look To The Sky Tonight For The Perseid Meteor Shower

Aug 11, 2021

Astronomers of all kinds will be looking skyward for the next few nights to see the Perseid Meteor Shower.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons/Trevor Bexon

It's a good time to enjoy the night sky. The annual Perseid meteor shower is ready to make an appearance. It looks to be one of the best shows in years.

The Perseids are named because they generally appear to come from the constellation Perseus. They are remnants of Comet Swift Tuttle, which orbits the earth every 133 years. They are very small, usually around a half inch in diameter, and burn up in the atmosphere at altitudes above 50 miles high.

The show has the potential to be the best of all meteor showers every year, but often it depends on the moon. The moon can make the sky so bright it makes it difficult to see many meteors, but this week the moon is just a small sliver that sets soon after sundown.

The shower intensifies after midnight, and it's possible to see 40 meteors per hour. Most will come from the northeast part of the sky. One good way to watch is laying back in a reclining lawn chair or cot.

The event peaks Wednesday night through Friday night, but Perseids will still be visible for another week, so even if the sky is hazy from clouds or wildfire smoke, you will have several opportunities to see the show.

The darker sky you observe from, the better, so it's best to try to observe far from city lights.