Summer’s hottest show is taking place tonight, and everyone is invited. The annual Perseid meteor shower has been lighting up the sky with cosmic dust since July 13 and will continue through August 26, but between August 12 and 13 (tonight and tomorrow night), the show is hitting its peak. Under normal conditions, up to 100 meteors per hour would be expected to streak through the night sky in Mother Nature’s version of a laser light show.
However, the moon is nearly full and very bright, which unfortunately could outshine the fainter Perseids, a NASA meteor expert told Space.com. That doesn’t mean there won’t be Perseids, but the celestial light show won’t be quite as wild as when it hit its peak of 300 meteors per hour. Still, sky spectators can expect to see more than 10-15 Perseids per hour, which is more meteors than you see on an average night in Cleveland, which is why NASA swears it’s worth a trip outdoors in the dead of night.
The display will be most active between midnight and dawn. Here’s how to see it:
- Head to the darkest place you can find in the great outdoors, far from the city lights and streetlamps. Then kick back, allow your eyes to adjust to the dark, and look away from the moon, toward the darkest part of the sky.
- Although the Perseids originate in the northeast near the constellation Perseus that gives them their name, they should be visible across the sky.
- If clouds or laziness or agoraphobia make it hard to see the celestial display, just watch the meteor shower on NASA TV or on the NASA Meteor Watch Facebook starting around 8 p.m. ET and continuing until the early hours of August 13.
- Finally, if you’re more of a morning person than a night owl, or you’re just really into fireballs, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network will post videos of the show in the morning with the label “PER.”