Keep your eyes on the sky: The annual Perseid meteor shower has just begun, and will continue to get very high for the next several weeks.
Because of Earth’s passage through the passage of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, this summertime meteor shower is known to produce up to 50 to 100 meteors per hour under clear skies, according to NASA.
Many of the Perseid meteors have long, colorful tails that create streaks of light across the sky. This shower can occasionally produce fireballs: exceptionally bright meteors that can be seen over a very wide area. When combined with balmy summer nights, the Perseids have become a beloved stargazing attraction in the Northern Hemisphere.
The meteors shot out on July 14 this year and will continue through September 1, peaking overnight on the night of August 12 into the early hours of August 13. Meteor sightings should gradually increase between now and that peak night, after which they will rapidly decrease, according to the Astronomy website. EarthSky.
As a bonus, this year the Perseids will summit just a few days before the August 16 new moon. New moons create great conditions for observing the night sky because they allow for the darkest skies possible. Which makes the meteor shower experience so powerful, that even fainter meteors won’t be washed away by moonlight.
While it’s possible to witness this meteor shower as early as 10 p.m., experts say the Perseids get more abundant as the night goes on, and they’re best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours—so, for peak viewing, plan to stay late or set your alarm.
Viewing a meteor shower requires no special equipment like binoculars or telescopes, but the experience is best when seen under the darkest sky possible, away from bright urban environments. Rural areas, particularly in Michigan’s Lower and Upper North Peninsula, provide the best viewing, along with dark sky parks and preserves.
Some meteor shower tips: Dress for the weather and choose a viewing location under a large expanse of sky, such as along a lake shore or in a designated viewing area in a dark sky park. Bring a blanket or reclining chair for camp, which will allow you to lean back and enjoy as much of the sky as possible. And perhaps most importantly, be patient: It takes about 30 minutes for our eyes to adjust to the dark.
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