Sky watchers rejoice! The annual celestial event known as the Perseid meteor shower will hit the evening skies this weekend, and with moonless skies this time around, prepare for a majestic show.
The Perseid meteor shower happens when Earth passes through the debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years.
This debris consists of dust and ice, and during the Perseid shower those burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing one of the most amazing meteor showers of the year. Humans are known to have been observing the Perseid meteor shower for at least 2,000 years.
This coming Sunday night, if conditions allow it, expect to see shooting stars racing through the sky every few minutes with your naked eye.
How to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower
The best time to watch the Perseid meteor shower is at its peak on Sunday night, August 12, anytime after 10 p.m. until dawn.
If you’re in the U.S., you can spot the Perseids rising around the northeastern sky. It might take up to an hour for your eyes to fully adjust to the darkness before you start noticing the shooting stars.
For the best viewing angle, you can lie flat on your lawn or on a reclining chair and simply watch the sky. No special equipment is needed but it’s recommended that you distance yourself from light sources as far as possible.
Urban areas may not be the best place to view the shower due to the abundance of artificial lighting so if you want to get the best views, you might want to venture out beyond the city limits and camp out.
The meteors will take various shapes and intensities. Some will be quick streaks while some will be brighter and will drift through the sky for several seconds. The Perseid meteor showers present a good opportunity to capture some amazing time-lapse shots so make sure you have your camera handy.
However, if you don’t feel like heading out, you can catch the Virtual Telescope Project live stream of the Perseid meteor shower on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. EST, 1:30 p.m. PST. This stream will be from the Castel Santa Maria in Italy’s Perugia province, where the earthquake-damaged 16th-century church is currently being restored.