The 2021 Perseids Meteor Shower Is Lighting up the Night Sky - Nerdist
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The 2021 Perseids Meteor Shower Is Lighting up the Night Sky

Make a wish, now make dozens of them, because the Perseids meteor shower is lighting up the August night sky. According to a blog by NASA, this meteor shower is “likely to be one of our most impressive skywatching opportunities for a while.” Even the moon, which might ordinarily impair the viewing experience, is in full cooperation this year. With so many stars aligning, we want to make sure you make the most out of this stunning astronomical event.

What Is the Perseids Meteor Shower?

The Perseids meteor shower is an August tradition. Historical record of the Perseids stretches back to AD 36, making them a recurring phenomenon for nearly 2,000 years. They were officially recognized as a meteor shower in the late 1830s.

Though at some point they were thought to be tears of a Saint, we now recognize them as debris from a comet. In this case, the comet Swift-Tuttle. This amalgamation of ice and rock orbits the sun every 133 years and leaves the Perseids behind in its wake.

Perseids Meteor shower, a meteor streaking across the night sky

NASA/Bill Ingalls

When Is the Best Time to View the 2021 Perseids?

This year, the Perseids are arriving beginning on the night of August 11. Peak viewing hours will go from midnight to early morning on August 12. Additionally, the night of August 12 will present a second excellent opportunity to view the shower. That’s right, you can still see the Perseids on August 12 if you miss night one. While it may be tempting to rush outside as soon as it gets dark, it is actually the pre-dawn hours that are best for viewing the Perseids. Looking for the shower after midnight is definitely recommended.

How Can You Best See the Meteor Shower?

Happily, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, your chances of seeing the 2021 Perseids are high. NASA suggests that you “find somewhere comfortable, avoiding bright lights as much as possible (yes, including your phone), and give your eyes some time to adjust to the dark—up to half an hour if you can.” Finding a dark place is absolutely crucial to your viewing experience. To help you locate the best spot in your area, you can use this Light Pollution map.

Though it may be tempting to use the constellation Perseus as your guide in the night sky, NASA cautions against this. So instead, simply look up!

To help capture all of this information, NASA Langley Research Center has created a helpful graphic:

Now that you’re ready to experience the Perseids to their full effect, there’s only one question left. How in the world do you pronounce Perseids? To us, it sounds like Per-see-eds! But happily, YouTube is here to help a little bit more than that!

Now, you’re really ready! Call up your friends, invite them to the sky show, and don’t miss this yearly spectacle!

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