As summer weather swelters on and temperatures hit record highs, we start to look ahead to every weather geek’s favorite pastime: viewing meteor showers. If there’s one celestial event that will catch your attention this summer, it’s the Perseid meteor shower. It will take place between July 17th and August 24th with its peak on August 12-13th.
This shower is said to get its name from the constellation Perseus. On top of its magnificent color, it is also one of the most plentiful showers with roughly 50 to 70 meteors per hour. Some rural locations will even see up to 100 per hour!
How to Get the Best Views
Luckily for us, it will be easy to spot this event from pretty much anywhere in the northern hemisphere! To optimize your chance of seeing meteors, situate yourself in a dark area. The less light pollution, the better. To witness the shower at its peak, set your alarm for early in the morning on August 13th and be outside just before dawn. Those who follow these orders will have the best shot of seeing the maximum amount of meteors!
Where Meteors Originate
Some things in space (and beyond) are a little tough to wrap our minds around. That’s not the case with meteors though! Meteors are pieces of asteroids or comets. After the asteroids and comets orbit around the sun, they leave a dusty trail behind them. This trail is where meteors are. Once they enter Earth’s atmosphere they burn into bright, colorful streaks in the sky. In the case of the Perseid, the meteors will be in the dust trail of the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. This comet takes 133 years to orbit the sun and its nucleus is roughly 16 miles across, meaning it will leave especially long trails of light and color behind the meteors as they enter into Earth’s atmosphere.
Astronomy is cool (#understatementofthecentury), and whether or not you’re a fan of all-things-space, this is a must-see event!