The Perseids peak during mid-August and are considered the best meteor shower of the year due to their high rates (50-100 meteors seen per hour) and pleasant late-summer temperatures.
The 2021 Perseid meteor shower is expected to produce the greatest number of meteors on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13.
What are meteor showers?
Meteor showers are an icy comet’s leftovers that crash into Earth’s atmosphere. As comets travel through the solar system, they leave behind a dusty trail of rocks and ice that lingers in space long after they leave. When the Earth passes through these cascades of comet waste, the bits of debris – which can be as small as grains of sand – pierce the sky at such speeds that they burst, creating a celestial fireworks display. The Perseid meteor shower was first observed over 2,000 years ago.
Where do Perseids come from?
The Perseids get their name from the Perseus constellation from where they appear to emerge. However, they are the debris of the comet Swift-Tuttle, first discovered in 1862 by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle. The comet last passed close to the Earth in 1992 and takes 133 years to rotate around the sun.
Every year between July 17 and August 24 the Earth crosses the orbital path of comet Swift-Tuttle, where the debris from the comet litters its orbit and the bits and pieces from this debris slam into the Earth’s upper atmosphere at some 130,000 miles (210,000 km) per hour, lighting up the night-time with fast-moving Perseid meteors.
How to watch the Perseid meteor shower 2021?
The 2021 Perseid meteor shower is expected to produce the greatest number of meteors on the mornings of August 11, 12 and 13 according to the American Meteor Society with no moonlight to ruin the show. No special equipment is required to watch the show and finding an open, dark sky is ideal for an unobstructed view. While they can be observed worldwide, the Perseids are best viewed in the northern hemisphere during pre-dawn hours.