Perseid meteor shower 2020

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SPRING MOUNTAINS NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, NV – AUGUST 13: A pair of Perseid meteors streak across the sky above desert pine trees on August 13, 2015 in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Nevada. The annual display, known as the Perseid shower because the meteors appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky, is a result of Earth’s orbit passing through debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The annual Perseid meteor shower will be streaking across the sky next week. The last-quarter moon may interfere with visibility but it will peak during the mornings of August 11th, 12th and 13th. 

“Shooting stars” come from comets and the Perseid meteors come from a comet called Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun every 133 years. The comet last passed Earth in 1992, and the next time will be in 2126. However, Earth passes through the dust and debris it leaves behind every year, which is what creates the annual Perseid meteor shower.

Years without moonlight see higher rates of meteors per hour with outburst years producing between 150-200 meteors an hour. While Persieds produces bright meteors, the moonlight could impact your ability to clearly spot the meteors.

Meteor numbers will begin to increase after midnight and will be visible into the predawn hours. The best viewing time will be on August 12th during the predawn hours. However, the week before or after should also produce a few meteors. All you need to do is point yourself to the north and look up.

Make sure to head to a dark area and give your eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the dark. A rate of 60-70 meteors per hour means you could see one meteor per minute. Therefore, the longer you wait, the more you’ll see.

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