May 24, 2024

When It Peaks and What to Expect

  • The Perseid meteor shower will peak August 13. 
  • It could bring up to 100 fireballs per hour, NASA expert Bill Cooke told Insider. 
  • It’s your best shot at seeing a meteor before the end of the year. Here’s how to see it and what to expect. 

The Perseid meteor shower is the must-see astrological event of the year. It is known for its high rate of meteors per hour and its epic fireballs that streak across the night sky. 

This year, conditions are particularly good to see the show, Bill Cooke, lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, told Insider.

“If you’re going to watch any meteor shower this year — because it’s going to be the most comfortable and there are going to be lots of fireballs — that’s the one to see,” said Cooke. 

The shower is due to peak on the night of August 13, per Cooke, so it’s time to start planning. Here’s what to expect and how to see it. 

The stars are aligned for a good show this year 

The Perseids are unmissable for meteor enthusiasts. You can expect up to 100 meteors per hour that leave long blazing trails and create “fireballs” — bright explosions that last longer than those made by typical meteors.

“They are the number one producer of fireballs among all meteor showers,” said Cooke.

This year, conditions are due to be particularly good for viewing because the moon will be at the very end of its crescent phase. 

“Compared to last year when the moon was full, this year is going to be great,” Cooke said. 

The Perseids happen when Earth’s orbit moves through space debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle.

Rocky debris slams into our atmosphere at 37 miles per second, or about 133,000 mph, creating fiery streaks across the night sky.

The Perseids can be seen from anywhere Northern Hemisphere

A big fireball is seen streaking over a lake in the early hours of the day.

A Perseid meteor seen in Galicia, Spain

Carlos Fernandez/Getty Images

Just like any time you are sky gazing, you’re going to want to head to a dark place, Cooke said. The Perseid meteors are bright, but can still be easily obscured by the glare from city lights. 

Plan to give yourself plenty of time when you get there. You’ll likely be using a phone to navigate to your chosen spot, so your eyes will need some time to adjust to the darkness. 

Bring a blanket, because even in the dead of summer, it can get cold at night. You’ll have the best chance of seeing the meteors in the pre-dawn hours.

Then lay down with your back flat against the ground and look up, ideally away from the moon as the little light bouncing off the waning moon could still outshine some of the fireballs. 

“Just lie back with your eyes, and take in the sky, and you’ll see Perseids and zip along the sky,” said Cooke. 

This is your best shot at seeing the showers till the end of the year 

The only shower that compares to the Perseids is the Geminids, which happens in December. 

“The difference is the Perseids occur in a nice, warm, summer’s night. The Geminis are mid-December and you freeze your tail off,” said Cooke. 


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