When is the last time you had a camp out in your own backyard? If you don’t have a backyard, you might want to hit up a friend this week. It’s time for the annual Perseid meteor showers! If you’ve never enjoyed watching these showers are a middle-of-the-night activity, I highly recommend it! While the Old Farmer’s Almanac states that the Perseid showers occur from July 23 to August 22, they typically peak between August 11 and August 13, which is this week!
The Perseid meteor showers are one of the biggest sky events of the year. This week, there’s supposed to be a crescent moon, which will apparently create an even darker sky. The darker the sky and the less clouds there are, the better your chances will be to see meteors shooting by overhead. It’s a perfect time to set up some tents, grab the sleeping bags and sleep under a summer sky!
The more north you live, the better you can see the Perseid meteor showers
If you live down South, it’s still worth a try to see the Perseid meteor showers. However, NASA says that Northern Hemispheres have the best viewing locations. This is because there is less “light pollution” in the north. (Remember, the darker the sky, the easier it is to see meteors.) On a good night, you can see as many 40 meteors per hour if you happen to be in a prime viewing location.
My family has enjoyed the Perseid meteor showers for years. When my kids were younger, we would sleep out in our open field all night. (And, wake up rather wet with dew, ha ha.) At around midnight, we would carry blankets, drinks and snacks out to the field, then spend a hour or so chatting and playing hide-and-seek in the dark while we waited for the sky show to begin. It’s always exciting for the first person to see a meteor sailing across the sky. At that moment, everyone scatters to find a spot, either to sit in a lawn chair with head tilted upward or (as most of us prefer) to lie flat on the ground where you can scan the sky in several directions at once. We’ve never seen 40 meteors per hour but we have seen MANY, and it never grows old!
Tips to help you see the meteors better
Always give your eyes about 20 minutes to adjust to night vision. The meteors come in waves, so you want to make sure you stay outdoors for at least (preferably more than) an hour. This is why it’s fun to simply make it a camp-out night, so you can get in as much viewing time as possible. In my location, which is south-central Pennsylvania, we usually see the most meteors between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. but I’m sure it varies by location.
Interesting facts about the Perseid meteor showers
That fragments that we call “meteors” that shoot across the night sky come from bits that have broken away from a comet, called the “Swift-Tuttle.” This particular comet takes 133 years to orbit the sun! The first recorded sighting of the Perseid meteor showers was in China, approximately 2,000 years ago. Ionization of molecules sometimes gives the meteors trail colors, such as red, green and yellow! (I’ve never been lucky enough to see that, yet.) The Perseid meteors travel at a speed of approximately 36 miles per second.
Other meteor showers in the autumn and winter skies
In addition to the summer time Perseid meteor showers, you can catch other sky shows throughout the rest of the year, as well. If you visit the 2021 meteor shower guide, you’ll find a list of meteor showers and dates when you can see them. There will also be several eclipses, visible planets and many beautiful constellations for your viewing pleasure!
God is amazing Creator who has filled the skies with wondrous things for us to enjoy!