The Perseid meteor shower, one of the brighter meteor showers of the year, occur every August, peaking around August 9-13. Consisting of tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseids are named after the constellation, Perseus. This is because, their radiant or the direction of which the shower seems to come from lies in the same direction as Perseus. The constellation lies in the north-eastern part of the sky.
Where to view
The Perseids can be viewed by observers in the Northern Hemisphere. If you are planning to view the shower, look between the radiant, which will be in the north-east part of the sky and the zenith (the point in sky directly above you). But don’t worry, you do not have to make any major astronomical calculations. Just lay a blanket on the ground, lie down and let your eyes wander around the sky – you will be bound to spot the shower sooner or later.
When to view
The best time to view the Perseids, or most other meteor showers is when the sky is the darkest. Most astronomers suggest that depending on the Moon’s phase, the best time to view meteor showers is right before dawn.
How to view
There isn’t a lot of skill involved in watching a meteor shower. Here are some tips on how to maximize your time looking for the Perseids:
- Get out of the city to a place where city and artificial lights do not impede your viewing
- If you are out viewing the shower during its peak, you will not need any special equipment. You should be able to see the shower with your naked eyes.
- Carry a blanket or a comfortable chair with you – viewing meteors, just like any other kind of star gazing is a waiting game, and you need to be comfortable. Plus, you may not want to leave until you can’t see the majestic celestial fireworks anymore.
- Check the weather and moonrise and moonset timings for your location before you leave, and plan your viewing around it.