Get ready to stay up late! This weekend is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, the most well-known annual shooting star shower.
There are two ideal times to view the shower this weekend. First, you could stay up late on Saturday, Aug. 11. At exactly midnight – when it becomes Sunday morning – and lasting through dawn, you’ll have a great view of the shower.
Same thing on Sunday night. Stay up late, and at midnight – when it becomes Monday morning – and lasting through dawn, you can see the shower most clearly.
This is shaping up to be an especially good year for the shower, since the Moon (which often gets in the way!) will not be an obstacle during the Perseids’ peak period. That means you might be able to see up to 80 shooting stars per hour.
So what exactly are meteor showers, anyway? These repeating annual events are caused as the Earth passes debris left over from a comet (in the case of Perseids, the comet is 109P/Swift–Tuttle). As the Earth goes around the Sun, our planet runs into the same debris at the same time each year.
Meteor showers are great “do it yourself” astronomy events, meaning it doesn’t take a lot of work to spot them. Binoculars or telescopes aren’t needed, since you’re scanning the entire sky looking for streaks of light. Just find a location far from city lights, get comfortable, and look up!
Interested in learning more? We’re covering this topic in our all-live planetarium show, “Wonders of the Night Sky,” as part of our LSC Space News Now breaking news portion. Click here to see a full list of shows playing in LSC’s Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.