Ready for some fireworks?
It’s time to look up at the sky again because the Perseid meteor shower has arrived, which NASA describes as “the best meteor shower of the year.”
The shooting stars not only produce 50 to 100 meteors per hour, but they also leave “wakes” of light and color in their wake as they streak across Earth’s atmosphere.
The Perseids are also known for their fireballs, which make the stars appear brighter and faster than the average meteor streak because they are made up of larger particles of cometary material.
The Perseid meteor shower, like all meteor showers, is caused by a parent comet, in this case Comet Swift-Tuttle. When the showers are at their peak, they create an incredible starry display.
“That’s the moment when the Earth passes through the heart of the stream of dust left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle,” astronomer and science astrophotographer Dr. Darren Baskill told Science Focus Magazine.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2023 Perseid meteor shower, from when it will peak to how to observe it.
When does the Perseid meteor shower peak?
The Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak this year around 11:00 p.m. local time on August 13; however, stargazers will have multiple opportunities to see the celestial display.
The Perseid meteor shower began on July 14 and will last until September 1, giving observers several chances to see the shooting stars.
Look up at the sky on a clear night away from any light pollution for the best views, allowing the stars to really pop.
When to watch the Perseid meteor shower?
While watching the shower at its peak is expected to provide the most meteors, EarthSky.com recommends looking up for the Perseids from late evening until early dawn at the beginning of August.
“Also, keep in mind that the Perseids increase in number as late night progresses into the early hours of the morning,” the space outlet reports. “Watch for several mornings until the waxing moon – brighter each night and up for longer – drives you back inside.”
During peak hours, viewers can expect to see a meteor “every minute or two – and they move quickly!” Baskill explained to Science Focus Magazine.
Where does the Perseid meteor shower appear in the sky?
They appear to shoot from their radiant, which is the point in the sky from which the stars appear to come. They usually fly high near the corresponding constellation. The Perseids refer to this star cluster as the Perseus constellation, which “follows the brighter and more distinctive constellation Cassiopeia,” according to Space.com.
Before you go out and buy a star map, keep in mind that meteor showers, despite appearing to radiate from their corresponding constellation, can often be seen all over the night sky.
What meteor shower comes after the Perseids?
The Perseid meteor shower is followed by the Orionids, a mid-level shower that can produce 10-20 stars at its peak, according to the American Meteor Society. Every year, they reach their peak in mid-October.
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