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In 2020, the peak mornings for the Perseid meteor shower – August 11, 12 and 13 – will feature meteors under moonlight. Here’s how to optimize your chances to catching some meteors during this year’s display.
The annual Perseid meteor shower is one of the most beloved meteor showers of the year, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, where the shower peaks on warm summer nights. No matter where you live worldwide, the 2020 Perseid meteor shower will probably produce the greatest number of meteors on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13. On the peak mornings in 2020, the moon will be at or slightly past its last quarter phase, so moonlight will somewhat mar this year’s production. Still, there are some ways you can minimize the moon and optimize your chances for a good display of Perseids this year. Here are some thoughts:
1. The Perseids tend to be bright, and a good percentage of them should be able to overcome the moonlight. Who knows? You still might see up to 40 to 50 meteors per hour at the shower’s peak, even in the light of a bright moon. Will you see over 100 per hour, as in some years? Not likely. Still …
2. Try to watch after midnight but before moonrise. In a typical year, meteor numbers increase after midnight. But – before dawn on all three peak mornings (August 11, 12 and 13) – fairly bright moonlight will flood the sky. Be aware that the Perseid meteors will start to fly in mid-to-late evening from northerly latitudes. South of the equator, the Perseids start to streak the sky around midnight. On each of the three peak mornings, there will be less and less moonlight. Visit Sunrise Sunset Calendars to find out when the moon sets in your sky on each of those mornings, remembering to check the moonrise and moonset box. Here’s an added bonus for evening observing. If fortune smiles upon you, the evening hours might offer you an earthgrazer – a looooong, slow, colorful meteor traveling horizontally across the evening sky. Earthgrazer meteors are rare but memorable. Perseid earthgrazers appear before midnight, when the radiant point of the shower is close to the horizon.
3. Watch in moonlight, but place yourself in the moon’s shadow. Just place some large structure or natural object – a barn, a cabin, a mountain – between you and the moon. You’ll see more meteors that way than if you’re standing out under the blazing moonlight itself.
4. Consider watching after the peak. People tend to focus on the peak mornings of meteor showers, and that’s entirely appropriate. But meteors in annual showers – which come from streams of debris left behind in space by comets – typically last weeks, not days. Perseid meteors have been streaking across our skies since around July 17. We’ll see Perseids for 10 days or so after the peak mornings on August 11, 12 and 13, though at considerably reduced numbers. Yet, each day as the moon wanes in the morning sky, less moonlight will obtrude on the show. Starting on or around August 17, moon-free skies reign all night long.
Also remember, the the Delta Aquariid meteor shower is still rambling along steadily. You’ll see mostly Perseids, but also some Delta Aquariids in the mix. There’s an explanation of how to tell the difference toward the bottom of this article.
In the Northern Hemisphere, we rank the August Perseids as an all-time favorite meteor shower of every year. For us, this major shower takes place during the lazy, hazy days of summer, when many families are on vacation. And what could be more luxurious than taking a siesta in the heat of the day and watching this summertime classic in the relative coolness of night?
What causes the Perseids?
Comet Swift-Tuttle is the largest object known to repeatedly pass by Earth; its nucleus is about 16 miles (26 kilometers) wide. It last passed nearby Earth during its orbit around the sun in 1992, and the next time will be in 2126. But it won't be forgotten in the meantime, because Earth passes through the dust and debris it leaves behind every year, creating the annual Perseid meteor shower.
When you sit back to watch a meteor shower, you're actually seeing the pieces of comet debris heat up as they enter the atmosphere and burn up in a bright burst of light, streaking a vivid path across the sky as they travel at 37 miles (59 km) per second. When they're in space, the pieces of debris are called "meteoroids," but when they reach Earth's atmosphere, they're designated as "meteors." If a piece makes it all the way down to Earth without burning up, it graduates to "meteorite." Most of the meteors in the Perseids are much too small for that; they're about the size of a grain of sand.
What do you need to see them?
The key to seeing a meteor shower is "to take in as much sky as possible," Cooke said. Go to a dark area, in the suburbs or countryside, and prepare to sit outside for a few hours. It takes about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, and the longer you wait outside, the more you'll see. A rate of 60-70 meteors per hour, for instance, means around one meteor per minute, including faint streaks along with bright, fireball-generating ones.
Some skywatchers plan to camp out to see the Perseid meteor shower, but at the very least, viewers should bring something comfortable to sit on, some snacks and some bug spray. Then, just relax and look upward for the celestial show.
Meteor showers are named after the constellation from which they appear to originate. In this case, it's the constellation Perseus, which is located at latitudes between +90 degrees and -35 degrees and is named after the hero from mythology who killed Medusa.
How to Wish upon a Shooting Star?
1. Close you eyes and Relax
2. Meditate on things you Wish to have.
3. Now focus to things that your heart desire the most. Things that set you on Fire!
4. Narrow down your wishes to only one, your most important wish.
5. Stay focused on your Wish. Live it as it already happened!
6. Open your eyes and wait for the Shooting star. Once you see it Re-Live it one more time quickly!
7. Thank the Divine Forces that helped you!
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