The Perseid meteor shower, which occurs in August, is anticipated throughout the year by astronomy enthusiasts. It produces dozens of shooting stars every hour at its peak, making it one of the most magnificent and consistent meteor showers observable from Earth. Here is all you will need to know to see it in 2021.

Watch Out For Perseid Meteor Shower Happening This Week With Up to 100 Shooting Stars Per Hour Filling the Sky
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The photo is taken with a digital camera Nikon D5100. 35mm. F 1.8. The sequence of stills with a 91-second exposure. Expecting the Perseid meteor shower.

What Is the Perseid Meteor Shower?

Every year, the Earth travels through the Swift-Tuttle comet's tail. When this occurs, the debris field's pebbles burn up in our atmosphere, generating a spectacular shooting star effect.

While many meteor showers only produce a few visible shooting stars every hour, the Perseids typically release 60 to 150 meteors per hour. They are named after Perseus, the constellation from whence the meteors appear to originate, but you may see them all around the night sky.

The comet that causes the Perseids is 109P/Swift-Tuttle, Forbes said. It was discovered by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle in 1862. It orbits the sun every 133 years, and the last time it passed through the inner solar system was in 1992.

According to NASA, the nucleus of the comet is 16 miles across. That is about double the size of the item that scientists believe wiped off the dinosaurs.

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When and Where to Watch the Perseids

The Perseids are visible from all across the planet, but mainly in the Northern Hemisphere, during the warm summer nights. Meteors will be visible beginning in the late evening hours, as early as 9 p.m., and improving into the early morning hours, about 2 a.m.

Skywatchers may be able to see a rare earthgrazer, a long, slow, and colorful meteor travelling over the horizon, earlier in the night. Meteors will begin to occur in the Southern Hemisphere about midnight.

"If those hours seem daunting, not to worry! You can go out after dark, around 9 p.m. local time, and see a few Perseids," NASA said. "Just know that you won't see nearly as many as you would have you gone out during the early morning hours."

NASA recommends selecting a spot with a clear view of a vast expanse of the sky, weather permitting. With the moon only in its waxing crescent phase and 13 percent full this year, moonlight will not interfere with the spectacle on peak mornings, ensuring the sky remains dark enough to detect shooting stars.

Allow few minutes for your eyes to adjust before taking in as much of the sky as possible for at least an hour while lying flat on your back. To see the performance, you would not need any particular equipment or knowledge of the constellations.

The meteor shower's peak is not your final chance to see them; they can be visible for up to 10 days afterward. The Southern Delta Aquariid and Alpha Capricornid meteor showers are still active until mid-August, contributing to the spectacular display.

There are live feeds available if you are unable to view the Perseids. NASA's Meteor Watch Facebook page and the Virtual Telescope Project's usually broadcast the event live.

The next meteor shower after the Perseids will not occur until October when the Orionids will light up the sky.

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