The 2020 Perseid meteor shower peaks soon: How to watch the show

 msn.com  08/09/2020 00:58:00   Eric Mack
a sky view looking up at night: Some 2019 Perseids, as seen from Macedonia. Spaceweather.com/Stojan Stojanovski © Provided by CNET Some 2019 Perseids, as seen from Macedonia. Spaceweather.com/Stojan Stojanovski

It's early August, which means the annualPerseid meteor shower is active and about ready to peak. The Perseids are one of the best, brightest batches of shooting stars, and it feels like we could use them now more than ever to add a little wonder and distraction into these pretty dismal times.

This famous shower comes around this time every year as the Earth drifts through a debris cloud left behind by the giant comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Bits of dust, pebbles and other cosmic detritus slam into our atmosphere, burning up into brief, bright streaks and even the occasional full-blown fireball streaking across the night sky.

In 2020, the Perseids are expected to peak on Aug. 11 and 12, when the moon should be a little less than half full.

The popularity of the shower is a combination of the fact that it's one of the strongest, with up to 100 visible meteors per hour on average, and it's coinciding with warm summer nights in the northern hemisphere. The waning moon is likely to wash out many otherwise visible meteors, but that still leaves plenty that should be easy to see if you do a little planning.

Cameras were pointed skyward around the world Monday night as the 2019 Perseid meteor shower peaked. The Perseids are one of the most consistently spectacular showers of the year, producing dozens of meteoroid trails, like this one captured from Tucson, Arizona, by photographer Eliot Herman. Keep clicking through the gallery for more pretty Perseids from around the globe.

Cameras were pointed skyward around the world Monday night as the 2019 Perseid meteor shower peaked. The Perseids are one of the most consistently spectacular showers of the year, producing dozens of meteoroid trails, like this one captured from Tucson, Arizona, by photographer Eliot Herman. Keep clicking through the gallery for more pretty Perseids from around the globe.

© Provided by CNET

In general, a good strategy is to head out to look for the Perseids as late in the evening as possible, but still before moonrise at your location. So in New York, for example, you'd want to be as far away from all that light pollution as possible by about 11 p.m. on Tuesday evening (the peak night) because the moon will rise about an hour later at 12:08 a.m. on Wednesday. (You can look up sunset and moonrise for your location with a site like TimeandDate.com.)

a sky view looking up at night: Some 2019 Perseids, as seen from Macedonia.
© Spaceweather.com/Stojan Stojanovski

Some 2019 Perseids, as seen from Macedonia.

You can also try to block out the moon by situating yourself next to a building, tree or something else that keeps some of that moonlight out of your retinas.

The moon will begin to totally disappear after mid-month, and although the Perseids will be past their prime, they will still be active and visible. This shower at half-peak with totally dark skies could be about the same as full peak with a bright moon, so don't think you mustgo out on the peak night to catch it.

Once you've decided on the perfect time and a place with minimal light interference and a wide view of the sky, just lie back, let your eyes adjust and relax. Pillows, blankets, lounge chairs and refreshments make for the ideal experience. It can take about 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, so be sure to be patient. If you follow all my advice, you're all but guaranteed to see a meteor.

It doesn't really matter where in the sky you look, so long as you have a broad view. That said, the Perseids will appear to radiate out from the constellation of Perseus, the Hero. If you want to practice to be an advanced meteor spotter, locate Perseus and try focusing there while you watch. Then try just looking up without focusing anywhere. See if you notice a difference. We're still dealing with the unpredictability of nature, so results will vary.

Arguably the best part of the Perseids each year are the gorgeous photos we get from talented astrophotographers spending long nights outside.

As always, if you capture any beauties yourself, please share them with me on Twitter or Instagram @EricCMack.


Video: Astronauts describe trip home aboard SpaceX capsule and what they would do differently next time (CBS News)


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It's early August, which means the annual Perseid meteor shower is active and about ready to peak. The Perseids are one of the best, brightest batches of shooting stars, and it feels like we could use them now more than ever to add a little wonder and distraction into these pretty dismal times. 

a sky view looking up at night: Some 2019 Perseids, as seen from Macedonia. Spaceweather.com/Stojan Stojanovski © Provided by CNET Some 2019 Perseids, as seen from Macedonia. Spaceweather.com/Stojan Stojanovski

This famous shower comes around this time every year as the Earth drifts through a debris cloud left behind by the giant comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Bits of dust, pebbles and other cosmic detritus slam into our atmosphere, burning up into brief, bright streaks and even the occasional full-blown fireball streaking across the night sky. 

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In 2020, the Perseids are expected to peak on Aug. 11 and 12, when the moon should be a little less than half full. 

The popularity of the shower is a combination of the fact that it's one of the strongest, with up to 100 visible meteors per hour on average, and it's coinciding with warm summer nights in the northern hemisphere. The waning moon is likely to wash out many otherwise visible meteors, but that still leaves plenty that should be easy to see if you do a little planning. 

  • Cameras were pointed skyward around the world Monday night as the 2019 Perseid meteor shower peaked. The Perseids are one of the most consistently spectacular showers of the year, producing dozens of meteoroid trails, like this one captured from Tucson, Arizona, by photographer Eliot Herman. Keep clicking through the gallery for more pretty Perseids from around the globe.
  • a person flying through the sky: Another Perseid captured above the Tucson foothills by photographer Eliot Herman. "At 9:05 p.m., early meteors as the radiant moves above the horizon can be elongated Earth-grazers as this one," says Herman. "Even under bright moonlight this Earth-grazer had vivid color characteristic of the Perseids."
  • a star in the sky: A lone, faint Perseid captured over Poland by Radoslaw Machowski.
  • This composite shot of Perseids over the monument to Queen Victoria at Chobham Common outside London was captured by photographer Neil Camden.
  • the sun setting in the dark: This early Perseid was taken Saturday from Russia by Dmitry Ardashev.
  • A composite shot of multiple long-trail Perseids cruising across the twilight sky of Northern Italy. This one comes from Simone Pelatti.
  • a group of people in a dark sky: Skywatchers in Germany set up a "MeteorCamp" near Stuttgart to catch images like this one from photographer Jean-Marie Will.
  • a sky view looking up at the beach: A lone Perseid is just one of several fantastic features in this shot from Nova Scotia, Canada, by Darryl Robertson. Jupiter and Saturn are also visible on either side of the Milky Way.
  • a sky view looking up at night: A composite of four Perseid shots in the Wyoming sky captured by photographer Jan Curtis.
  • a blue sky: Even as dawn broke during the Perseids' peak Aug. 13, the meteors were still doing their thing, as they'll continue to do for a few more weeks, albeit a little less frequently than they did Monday and Tuesday. Keep your eyes on the sky!
Cameras were pointed skyward around the world Monday night as the 2019 Perseid meteor shower peaked. The Perseids are one of the most consistently spectacular showers of the year, producing dozens of meteoroid trails, like this one captured from Tucson, Arizona, by photographer Eliot Herman. Keep clicking through the gallery for more pretty Perseids from around the globe.
Another Perseid captured above the Tucson foothills by photographer Eliot Herman. "At 9:05 p.m., early meteors as the radiant moves above the horizon can be elongated Earth-grazers as this one," says Herman. "Even under bright moonlight this Earth-grazer had vivid color characteristic of the Perseids."
A lone, faint Perseid captured over Poland by Radoslaw Machowski.
This composite shot of Perseids over the monument to Queen Victoria at Chobham Common outside London was captured by photographer Neil Camden.
This early Perseid was taken Saturday from Russia by Dmitry Ardashev.
A composite shot of multiple long-trail Perseids cruising across the twilight sky of Northern Italy. This one comes from Simone Pelatti.
Skywatchers in Germany set up a "MeteorCamp" near Stuttgart to catch images like this one from photographer Jean-Marie Will.
A lone Perseid is just one of several fantastic features in this shot from Nova Scotia, Canada, by Darryl Robertson. Jupiter and Saturn are also visible on either side of the Milky Way.
A composite of four Perseid shots in the Wyoming sky captured by photographer Jan Curtis.
Even as dawn broke during the Perseids' peak Aug. 13, the meteors were still doing their thing, as they'll continue to do for a few more weeks, albeit a little less frequently than they did Monday and Tuesday. Keep your eyes on the sky!

In general, a good strategy is to head out to look for the Perseids as late in the evening as possible, but still before moonrise at your location. So in New York, for example, you'd want to be as far away from all that light pollution as possible by about 11 p.m. on Tuesday evening (the peak night) because the moon will rise about an hour later at 12:08 a.m. on Wednesday. (You can look up sunset and moonrise for your location with a site like TimeandDate.com.)

a sky view looking up at night: Some 2019 Perseids, as seen from Macedonia.
© Spaceweather.com/Stojan Stojanovski

Some 2019 Perseids, as seen from Macedonia.

You can also try to block out the moon by situating yourself next to a building, tree or something else that keeps some of that moonlight out of your retinas. 

The moon will begin to totally disappear after mid-month, and although the Perseids will be past their prime, they will still be active and visible. This shower at half-peak with totally dark skies could be about the same as full peak with a bright moon, so don't think you must go out on the peak night to catch it. 

Once you've decided on the perfect time and a place with minimal light interference and a wide view of the sky, just lie back, let your eyes adjust and relax. Pillows, blankets, lounge chairs and refreshments make for the ideal experience. It can take about 20 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, so be sure to be patient. If you follow all my advice, you're all but guaranteed to see a meteor. 

It doesn't really matter where in the sky you look, so long as you have a broad view. That said, the Perseids will appear to radiate out from the constellation of Perseus, the Hero. If you want to practice to be an advanced meteor spotter, locate Perseus and try focusing there while you watch. Then try just looking up without focusing anywhere. See if you notice a difference. We're still dealing with the unpredictability of nature, so results will vary. 

Arguably the best part of the Perseids each year are the gorgeous photos we get from talented astrophotographers spending long nights outside.

As always, if you capture any beauties yourself, please share them with me on Twitter or Instagram @EricCMack


Video: Astronauts describe trip home aboard SpaceX capsule and what they would do differently next time (CBS News)

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