There will be a celestial spectacle in the night sky tonight as the annual Perseid meteor shower graces the night skies. With its reliably dazzling display of “shooting stars,” this meteor shower is a highlight of the summer months, captivating observers around the world. And no, you don’t need to wear special glasses to safely watch it.
The Perseid meteor shower, which starts in mid-July and continues its luminous journey until the end of August, is set to peak tonight, motzei shabbos. Under clear and dark skies, spectators can anticipate a meteoric extravaganza, with anywhere from dozens to an 100 meteors streaking across the sky per hour. These meteors will be hurtling through space at an astonishing speed of 37 miles per second, creating a breathtaking visual spectacle.
While viewers globally will have the opportunity to partake in this cosmic performance, the Northern Hemisphere is poised to have the prime seats for this grand celestial show. Luckily for us, the United States is situated smack in middle of the Northern Hemisphere.
The absolute best time to watch the Perseids is a few hours before sunrise on Sunday. However, for those who prefer not to rise at such ungodly hours, the celestial show should be quite visible as early as 10 p.m. That’s according to the experts at NASA, so don’t blame us if it doesn’t work for you.
The Perseids owe their dazzling display to the debris field left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet during its passage near Earth in 1992. The tiny particulates, akin to grit, ignite as they encounter friction from Earth’s atmosphere, producing the mesmerizing streaks of light that have become the hallmark of the Perseid meteor shower.
The name “Perseids” stems from the constellation Perseus, from which the meteors seem to originate. However, Perseus itself isn’t the source of the meteors; it serves as a celestial signpost to guide observers in the right direction. Gazing toward the northeastern portion of the sky during the late hours of the night will offer the best chances of spotting these mesmerizing meteors. In the absence of the prominent Perseus constellation, dark patches in the sky can also offer a glimpse of these celestial travelers.
To maximize the experience of this awe-inspiring phenomenon, here are some expert recommendations:
- Darkness: Opt for a viewing location away from urban lights to enjoy an unobstructed view of the meteor shower.
- Patience: Allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness by spending a minimum of 15 minutes outdoors. For the most rewarding experience, dedicate an hour to observing the meteoric spectacle.
- Disconnect: Avoid the allure of your phone, as using it can diminish your night vision, leading to missed meteor sightings.
This year, fortunate viewers will be greeted by a thin crescent moon, illuminated to a mere 10 percent. This minimal lunar light ensures that the brilliance of the Perseid meteors won’t be drowned out by excessive brightness.