- The 2020 Perseid meteor shower began on Friday, July 17 and lasts until Monday, August 24.
- Picking up throughout August, the shower is expected to peak late on Tuesday, August 11 and into the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, August 12.
- The Perseids are fast, bright, and colorful, making them the best shower of the year.
This summer has been a strange one, to say the least. But as the dog days of summer set in, even if you haven’t been able to sneak away to the beach or take a road trip, there’s still one annual phenomenon with the power to lift anyone’s spirits: the Perseid meteor shower.
The Perseid meteor shower began on Friday, July 17 and lasts until the early hours of Monday, August 24, lasting just over a month. The cosmic show peaks late on Tuesday, August 11 and into the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, August 12, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS). Considered the best meteor shower of the year, the Perseids are fast, bright, and colorful, making for a spectacle that even the most casual viewer can spot.
Each night, the meteors will be most visible between 10 p.m. and 4:40 a.m., with peak viewing from 3:40 to 4:40 a.m., according to the Griffith Observatory. At its peak, NASA reports, up to 100 meteors an hour may be counted (although 50 to 75 is more likely for the average person in a rural location). Even if you haven’t been watching since July 17, the Perseids will only get stronger as we approach August 11.
Each year, Earth passes by debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle, which burns up in our atmosphere, appearing as shooting stars. The Perseids get their name from the constellation Perseus—they appear to originate from that spot in the northern sky, AMS reports.
To get the best possible view of the meteor shower, find a dark spot outside and try to block artificial light as much as possible. It’s also best to lay down completely—so spread out on a blanket instead of craning your neck to the sky in a chair. Even though they should be visible all night, the meteors will be brightest before dawn, so plan accordingly and enjoy the view!
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