It’s early August, which means the annual Perseid meteor shower is active, and it’s ready to peak. The Perseids are one of the best, brightest batches of shooting stars, and it feels like we could use them now more than ever to add a little wonder and distraction into these pretty dismal times we’re living through.
This famous shower comes around this time every year as the Earth drifts through a debris cloud left behind by the giant comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Bits of dust, pebbles and other cosmic detritus slam into our atmosphere, burning up into brief, bright streaks and even the occasional full-blown fireball streaking across the night sky.
In 2020, the Perseids are expected to peak on Aug. 11 and 12, when the moon should be a little less than half full.
The popularity of the shower is a combination of the fact that it’s one of the strongest, with up to 100 visible meteors per hour on average, and it’s coinciding with warm summer nights in the northern hemisphere. The waning moon is likely to wash out many otherwise visible meteors, but that still leaves plenty that should be easy to see if you do a little planning.
In general, a good strategy is to head out to look for the Perseids as late in the evening as possible, but still before moonrise at your location.
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