Don't miss the meteor shower

Jan Cross
August 9, 2018

With a new moon providing an extra-dark backdrop to the spectacle, the shooting stars will be brighter than ever.

The annual Perseids meteor shower is the glittery result of Earth's passage through a stream of debris left behind by a comet, so you should expect to see meteor rates as high as 200 per hour - as long as you are away from light pollution and the clouds stay away.

Perhaps you might remember an wonderful meteor show back in the early 1990s?

If you happen to be in a light-pollution-free area with nice weather, you'll probably be able to see about 60 or 70 meteors streaking through the moonless sky, according to NASA estimates. A sun lounger, or deckchair, will let you relax and look up without craning your neck. The best views will come before dawn on the 13th, Astronomymagazine predicts.

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The best time to see those meteors is at around 11 p.m. ET until dawn the next morning. You can tell if a meteor is a Perseid by following its direction backwards and, if it's coming from the direction of Perseus, it's a Perseid. Just make sure you have a clear view of a large swathe of the sky and be patient. It's a rich meteor shower, and it's steady.

Those bits of cosmic dust fall into our atmosphere, creating the bright streaks we see as meteors in the night sky. Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky so try and find an open area, away from street lights.

Earthsky's Bruce McClure said "it should be an awesome year to watch the Perseids!" Nope! Although the peaks are the best times (as long as there's no moonlight), annual meteor showers typically last weeks, not days... building up gradually and then falling off rapidly. The Slooh observatory will host a livestream of the shower starting at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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