The Perseid meteor shower is currently putting on a show in the night sky, as the Earth passes through the trail of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. The shower is expected to reach a peak sometime between the evening of the 12 of August and the morning of the 13 August. Even so, it’s worth looking out for Perseid meteors a few nights before and after this time; on Saturday night I managed to spot 13 Perseids, including a spectacular fireball, during a roughly two-hour period of clear sky.
With the Moon out of the way, this year, we should have a fairly good view of the peak of the shower. With this in mind, I’ve put together my top five tips for making the most of the Perseids.
- The best time to look out for the Perseids will be between the evening of the 12 of August and the pre-dawn hours of the 13 August, around the time when the peak of the shower is anticipated. After midnight is a good time to look, as the patch of sky the meteors appear to come from will be higher in the sky then.
- Don’t get too hung-up on the exact direction in which to look. Simply try to find an observing site, away from sources of light pollution, where you can see as much of the sky as possible, and look up.
- My favourite piece of meteor shower observing equipment is undoubtedly my sunlounger. If you have one, dig it out. Being wrapped up warm lying back on a sunlounger is, to me, the perfect way to watch meteor showers. They’re great for binocular astronomy too.
- If you’re a budding citizen scientist then you can submit a report of your meteor shower observations to one of the astronomical societies. The SPA have a form here and the BAA have one here.
- For me, meteor showers are mainly about having fun and revelling in one of nature’s greatest spectacles. So my final tip is to invite your friends over to watch the shower with you. When the brighter meteors blaze over you’ll then have someone to share the excitement with. If you’re on Twitter, you can tweet your observations to other meteor watchers using the hastag #meteorwatch.
That’s it! Clear skies and good luck.