Attractions

Perseid Meteor Shower

Up in the Sky

South Lake Tahoe, 96150

August 11 - 13, 2021

All Day Event

September 30 @ 10:04 pm

The annual Perseid meteor shower is one of the most beloved meteor showers of the year, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, where the shower peaks on warm summer nights. No matter where you live worldwide, the 2021 Perseid meteor shower will probably produce the greatest number of meteors on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13.

On the peak mornings in 2021, there will be no moonlight to ruin on the show. A non-intrusive waxing crescent phase will beautify the western sky at nightfall, but will set by early-to-mid evening. That guarantees a dark sky for this year’s Perseid meteors.

1. The Perseids tend to be bright, and a good percentage of them should be able to overcome mildly light-polluted skies. Who knows? In a dark sky, you may see up to 60 meteors per hour at the shower’s peak. Will you see over 100 per hour, as in some years? Not likely, perhaps. But you won’t know unless you look …

2. Try to watch after midnight but before dawn. In a typical year, meteor numbers increase after midnight. Be aware that the Perseid meteors will start to fly in mid-to-late evening from northerly latitudes. South of the equator, the Perseids start to streak the sky around midnight. Here’s an added bonus for evening observing. If fortune smiles upon you, the evening hours might offer you an earthgrazer – a looooong, slow, colorful meteor traveling horizontally across the evening sky. Earthgrazer meteors are rare but memorable. Perseid earthgrazers appear before midnight, when the radiant point of the shower is close to the horizon.

3. Watch in moonlight, but place yourself in the moon’s shadow. The moon’s presence at nightfall and early evening should not be a factor in 2021. But in years when bright moon is overwhelming, there is still a solution. Just place some large structure or natural object – a barn, a cabin, a mountain – between you and the moon. You’ll see more meteors that way than if you’re standing out under the blazing moonlight itself.

4. Consider watching after the peak. People tend to focus on the peak mornings of meteor showers, and that’s entirely appropriate. But meteors in annual showers – which come from streams of debris left behind in space by comets – typically last weeks, not days. Perseid meteors usually start streaking the sky around July 17. We’ll see Perseids for 10 days or so after the peak mornings on August 11, 12 and 13, though at considerably reduced numbers.

Also remember, the Delta Aquariid meteor shower is still rambling along steadily. You’ll see mostly Perseids, but also some Delta Aquariids in the mix.

Learn why famous meteor showers like the Perseids and Leonids occur every year 
When you sit back to watch a meteor shower, you’re actually seeing the pieces of comet debris heat up as they enter the atmosphere and burn up in a bright burst of light, streaking a vivid path across the sky as they travel at 37 miles (59 km) per second. When they’re in space, the pieces of debris are called “meteoroids,” but when they reach Earth’s atmosphere, they’re designated as “meteors.” If a piece makes it all the way down to Earth space.com/18507-meteor-showers-shooting-stars-infographic without burning up, it graduates to “meteorite.” Most of the meteors in the Perseids are much too small for that; they’re about the size of a grain of sand.

What do you need to see them?
The key to seeing a meteor shower is “to take in as much sky as possible,” Cooke said. Go to a dark area, in the suburbs or countryside, and prepare to sit outside for a few hours. It takes about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, and the longer you wait outside, the more you’ll see. A rate of 150 meteors per hour, for instance, means two to three meteors per minute, including faint streaks along with bright, fireball-generating ones.

Some skywatchers plan to camp out to see the Perseid meteor shower, but at the very least, viewers should bring something comfortable to sit on, some snacks and some bug spray. Then, just relax and look upward for the celestial show.

Originally posted at earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-perseid-meteor-shower

Details

Date:
September 30, 2022
Time:
10:04 pm
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