How To Catch The Perseid Meteor Shower 2021
(August 11, 2021 - August 13, 2021 - For North American Viewers)
From the constellation Perseus, the Perseid Meteor shower ignites a summer spectacle that you do not want to miss!
The Perseid meteor shower is one of the year’s best showers and occurs around mid-August each year, varying by only a day or two. This year, starting on the night of August 11th, we can expect the best views of these soaring space rocks from our Northern Hemisphere!
Did you know that meteors are created when Earth rushes through debris and dust that is left behind by a passing comet? In the case of the upcoming (and well-anticipated) Perseid meteor shower, Earth will be following the stream of debris from the comet called Swift-Tuttle.
When friction heats up the debris entering into Earth’s upper atmosphere, the by-product becomes the meteors that we see from Earth. Meteors that enter our atmosphere and manage to fall all the way down to the Earth’s surface are later called meteorites and are full of iron, making them detectable by magnets. Meteorites are of great interest and importance to researchers to understand the formation and continuous evolution of our mysterious solar system.
Starting on August 11th, 2021, the best visibility of the Perseid meteor shower from the associated comet Swift-Tuttle will begin. The show will commence and is best seen at pre-dawn, which refers to the hours between midnight and about one hour before morning twilight, and will be visible during these hours for the following estimated 50 hours.
According to astronomers, this year we can expect about 50 meteors per hour during the summer Perseid meteor shower. We will also be fortunate that during the nights of August 11th to August 13th, a waxing crescent moon is anticipated and will emulate only minimal moonlight, making the sightings of these meteors even easier to catch!
Did you know meteors can be seen anywhere in the sky, not necessarily just near their radiant? A radiant is the location in the sky from which the meteor appears to originate from. For example, the constellation Perseus is known to be the radiant for the upcoming Perseids meteor shower.
Top 10 Meteor Shower Viewing Tips
- For almost all meteor showers, the skies around the radiant are the most active just before dawn. So make sure to plan ahead to stay awake between midnight and dawn to receive the optimal viewing experience.
- Do not worry about purchasing any fancy equipment for the night. The best tool for viewing the fast-moving meteors is the naked eye. Blink and you might miss it!
- Light pollution from cities can obstruct the view of the meteors. To avoid this, you may need to plan for a country drive or an overnight campout.
- The most promising viewing locations include country hilltops or a mountain top with a high enough altitude to reduce haze from air and light pollution.
- Set yourself up in a location free from tall trees or buildings and have as much night sky as possible in your view.
- Adjust your eyes to the darkness for approximately 20 minutes prior to starting your viewing experience.
- Avoid looking at any digital screens during the shower, as this will interfere with your eyes' night vision capability.
- Although this will be out of your control, clear skies and a forecast free of rain will be required for the best visibility.
- Pack a warm blanket to lie on the ground, or a lawn chair with a recliner to comfortably prepare yourself to keep your neck and eyes facing upwards for extended periods of time.
- Wear extra layers out for the night; it can get surprisingly cold after sundown.
Perseid Meteor Shower Facts
- The Comet Swift-Tuttle was discovered in 1862 by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle.
- The comet passes through Earth's inner solar system only once every 133 years, yet Earth encounters the trail of the comet’s debris each August resulting in one of Earth’s best meteor showers of the year.
- In 1993, the comet passed through our inner solar system and produced between 200 and 500 visible meteors per hour during the August nights.
- In A.D. 36, a Chinese manuscript was the first written record of the Perseid meteor shower.
- In 1866, an Italian astronomer first linked the Swift-Tuttle comet to the Perseid meteor shower.
With all this knowledge and excitement surrounding the upcoming Perseid meteor shower, ensure you have an extra rewarding experience while staying comfortable in Heat Holders extra snuggly blanket, socks or hats!
Enjoy the show!