Rejoice, weird sky lovers, because this week is shaping up to be an especially great stretch of summer stargazing. The Perseid Meteor Shower, which peaks every August, is set to be the best it has been in years, thanks to the new moon.
The Perseid Meteor Shower is caused when the Earth’s atmosphere passes through the debris trail left by the Swift-Tuttle comet. How impressive the view is from earth depends mostly on the moon, which resulted in a disappointing experience in 2020 but it’s primed to be a hell of a view this year.
A new moon arrived on Sunday, meaning that the sun and moon are close together (from our perspective here on earth) so neither will be that visible in the sky. The dark sky will allow the Perseid Meteor Shower to be especially bright. According to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, this means that viewers could see up to 100 meteors in an hour if they are in a location where they get a clear look at the sky.
Denis Vida, a postdoctoral associate in Western’s department of physics and astronomy, said that “the best show will be just before sunrise on either August 12th or August 13th” but that you can also get a great look at it on Wednesday or Thursday night, especially if you wait until after 10 pm.
To make sure you see the Perseids, simply locate the Big Dipper in the sky and you are likely to see a meteor every few minutes. You won’t need any special equipment, as the meteors will be visible to the naked eye.
“If you happen to find yourself outside of the city or perhaps on a beach on Wednesday or Thursday night, look up! Every couple of minutes or so you will see a bright meteor zipping across the sky,” explained Vida.
So if you want to plan a fun family activity or a romantic date night, find a beach or remote nature location near you on Wednesday or Thursday to enjoy one of the best night skies of the entire year.