Well late this evening just focus your gaze northeast into the night sky and you may see upwards of 80 per hour!
The annual Perseids meteor shower peaks tonight (technically it peaks at 2pm EST this afternoon, but you get the picture…).
Don’t worry, we’ve got ALL the tips for maximizing your Perseids viewing party tonight…whether you’re in the city or the country.
The Perseids are one of the most dependable meteor showers of the year.
In fact, they’re the best meteor shower of the year to view if you don’t want to brave the winter cold to do so — since they’re 2nd only to the December Geminids.
So How Do Your Watch the Perseids?
- Get Away From Artificial Light: If at all possible, get out of the city a little ways since its light pollution will obscure your view of the stars, hence, the meteor shower.
- Look Northeast: Since the Perseids appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky, that’s the direction you’ll focus on.
Astronomy.com has some more specific tips that will be incredibly helpful for maximum Perseids viewing:
"Early in the evening on Wednesday, August 12, set up a lawn chair, preferably one that reclines. Face east, and look halfway up. After midnight (around the time of moonrise), adjust your chair, and generally look overhead. Glancing around won’t hurt anything."
- Drive Northeast Too: If you live in the city and are going to get out of town about 20-40 miles to catch the show, you won’t want to drive to the south, for example, and then have to look back through the light pollution of the city glow when you look Northeast.
So go ahead and drive north or northeast to find a good spot to set up camp.
- Maximize Your Night Vision: Give your eyes about 15 minutes to adjust to the dark and then do NOT look at the moon, your cell phone screen, a flashlight, etc. It will take another 15 minutes for your eyes to adjust again. Boo.
- Timing Is Everything: The best time to view the Perseids is between midnight and dawn, you local time. That said, NASA says viewing between 9pm-11pm, when both Persus and the competing moon are low on the horizon, will give you the best chance to see a magnificent "Earthgrazer".
What’s an Earthgrazer?
"Earthgrazers are meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping across the surface of a pond…They are long, slow and colorful—among the most beautiful of meteors…an hour of watching may net only a few of these at most, but seeing even one can make the whole night worthwhile."
- Be Alcohol-Free: The aforementioned Astronomy.com articles goes on to say,
"In addition to your chair, bring a blanket, bug spray, cookies, fruit, and a non-alcoholic beverage (alcohol interferes with the eye’s dark adaption as well as the visual perception of events)."
Well that’s no fun. Oh well, drink or don’t drink, we won’t tell…
The Perseids Are Already Streaking Across Twitter
The Perseid meteor shower was all the buzz on Twitter yesterday (by the way, you can follow me too – @JSDavis82). Here’s what some of the folks I follow were saying:
@LighterFootstep: "The Perseid meteor shower actually peaks around 2pm Eastern Wednesday. So you can try watching tonight or Wed. evening."
@TheEcoFoodie: "Biggest meteor showers of the year TONIGHT >> http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/08/perseids/. I’ll be up watching."
@SageMcGreen: "I saw about a dozen shooting stars streak across the night sky during the Perseids meteor shower. It was worth getting up."
@TheGoodHuman: "I should go outside soon and look for the meteor shower, no?"
As you can see, some of them were talking about already viewing the Perseids. Since the peak of the meteor shower is today at 2pm EST, you could have basically flipped a coin as to whether you wanted to watch them last night or tonight.
So get out of the city (it’ll do you some good), kick back in the [hopefully] cool summer night air and enjoy one of nature’s fireworks display. The best part is, these fireworks won’t give you lead poisoning…
Please feel free to email me any pics you’re able to snag of the Perseids this year. Have fun at your Perseid party!