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The 2021 Perseid Meteor Shower Is Here!

The 2021 Perseid Meteor Shower Is Here!

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Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls 

The Perseids are at their peak this week!

The Perseid meteor shower, one of the biggest meteor showers of the year, will be at its brightest early in the morning on Thursday, August 12, 2021 and Friday, August 13, 2021. Read on for some tips on how to watch the night sky this week – and to find out: what exactly are the Perseids, anyway?

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Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Your best chance to spot the Perseids will be between 2 AM and dawn (local time) the morning of August 12 or 13. Find a dark spot, avoid bright lights (yes, that includes your phone) and get acclimated to the night sky.

Your eyes should be at peak viewing capacity after about 30 minutes; with a clear, dark sky, you could see more than 40 Perseids an hour! If you’re not an early bird, you can try and take a look soon after sunset (around 9 PM) on the 12th, though you may not see as many Perseids then.

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Credit: NASA/MEO

If it’s too cloudy, or too bright, to go skywatching where you are, just stay indoors and watch the Perseids online!

Our Meteor Watch program will be livestreaming the Perseids from Huntsville, Alabama on Facebook (weather permitting), starting around 11 p.m. EDT on August 11 and continuing through sunrise.

So… why are they called the Perseids?

Because all of a meteor shower’s meteors have similar orbits, they appear to come from the same place in the sky – a point called the radiant. 

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The radiant for the Perseids, as you might guess from the name, is in the constellation Perseus, found near Aries and Taurus in the night sky.

But they’re not actually coming from Perseus, right?

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Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Right! The Perseids are actually fragments of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits within our solar system.

If you want to learn more about the Perseids, visit our Watch the Skies blog or check out our monthly “What’s Up” video series. Happy viewing!

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