The Perseids burst out into our night skies every year between late July and the end of August. During this period, the meteor shower builds in intensity until it spectacularly erupts over one night, dubbed the peak. This year, NASA said the meteor shower will peak around mid-August when the Earth crosses the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. Perseids meteors are the cosmic debris left behind the speedy comet as orbits the Sun every 133 years.
The Perseids will peak this year between the nights of August 11 and August 13.
When the shower peaks, NASA expects up to up 60 meteors an hour to streak across the night skies.
Unfortunately for hopeful stargazers, the presence of a near-Full Moon on these nights could hinder the viewing experience.
But the Perseids are renowned for producing many intense fireballs, making the meteor shower an event worth looking out for.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center announced: “The Perseid meteor shower is here. Perseid meteors, caused by debris left behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle, began streaking across the skies in late July and will peak on the night of August 12.
“The Perseid meteor shower is often considered to be one of the best meteor showers of the year due to its high rates and pleasant late-summer temperatures.
“This year’s shower, however, has the unfortunate circumstance of having a full Moon right at the shower peak, reducing the meteor rates from over 60 per hour down to 15 to 20 per hour.
“But the Perseids are rich in bright meteors and fireballs, so it will still be worth going out in the early morning to catch some of nature’s fireworks.”
Most meteor showers are best seen after midnight and before dawn when the skies are completely dark.
Perseids are best seen around 2am local time, so depending on your location, you might catch the shower after the Moon sets.
In the UK for instance, the Moon will drop below the horizon on August 12 around 2.19am BST.
The following night, August 13, the Moon will set after 3.13am BST.
Be sure to double-check your local moonrise and moonset times before you head out to see the meteor shower.
NASA said: “If those hours seem daunting, not to worry. You can go out after dark, around 9pm local time, and see Perseids.
“Just know that you won’t see nearly as many as you would had you gone out during the early morning hours.”
If the night of the shower’s peak is not too cloudy, try to find a dark and quiet observing point.
Meteor showers are best watched in pitch-black darkness with a clear and unobstructed view of the entire night skies.
NASA advises finding a location away from the bustle of city life, which means staying away from sources of light pollution like cars and houses.
After that, simply lay down on your back and take in as much of the sky at once as possible. You will not need any viewing equipment.
The meteors will appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus – the shower’s namesake.
NASA said: “Meteors can generally be seen all over the sky so don’t worry about looking in any particular direction.”