This year, the Perseid meteor shower started on the 17July and will end around the 24August
Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see: this year’s Perseids meteor shower! Here is all you need to know about this phenomenon and how to best appreciate the view.
What is it?
For those wondering, a meteor shower is when the number of meteors (more commonly referred to as ‘shooting stars’) increases. Meteors are usually the debris that comets shed while orbiting around the sun. If you pay close enough attention, all the meteors seem to come from a certain area in the sky, called a ‘radiant point’. Meteor showers therefore tend to be named after the constellation that matches this location.
Each summer, our little blue planet comes across the orbital path of the Swift-Tuttle comet and its debris create the ‘Perseid meteor shower’. If you trace back the origins of the meteors, you will point towards the constellation Perseus.
When can I see it?
This year, the Perseid meteor shower started on the 17 July and will end around the 24 August. Its peak is said to be around the 11, 12, and 13 of August. However, because of the brightness of the ‘waxing gibbeous' moon, it might be slightly more difficult to see all of the meteors.
Even if this will not hide completely all the meteors from sight, some websites recommend to go star-gazing on the weekend of the 9 August instead for a more ‘moon-free’ experience and therefore a better chance to see a greater number of shooting stars.
Regardless of the date, the best time to go star-gazing for meteors is during cloudless nights. Even though the meteor numbers increase after midnight, it is still possible to witness them starting from mid-to-late evenings.
Where should I go?
Come to the dark side. Literally. The further you are from city lights, the more easily you will be able to see the shooting stars, so take a car and go somewhere in the countryside. Find a nice field for an open view of the skies, or maybe a lake to enjoy the romantic sparkles of the stars’ reflection on the water.
How to view it?
There is no need for special equipment. All that is recommended is to take a blanket or long chair to sit comfortably, adequate clothing, snacks and drinks if you would like and take your time! Your eyes take around 20 minutes to fully adapt to the darkness and you may have to patiently wait to witness the spurs of meteors. So be relaxed, be patient, and don’t forget to make a wish!