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Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight with over 100 fireballs per hour

The Perseids meteor shower is one of the most eagerly anticipated astronomical events of the year. This celestial show, a consistent performer, brightens the night skies in mid-August, captivating the imaginations of both seasoned stargazers and newcomers alike.

The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus because they seem to emanate from that region of the sky. They are actually remnants of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun every 133 years.

As this comet journeys through our solar system, it sheds a trail of debris, consisting mostly of tiny dust and rock particles. When the Earth passes through this trail, the particles, or meteoroids, collide with our atmosphere, burning up and creating the fiery streaks in the sky we call meteors or “shooting stars.”

When and how to view the Perseids

The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year from about July 23 to August 22, with the peak from late midnight August 11 to dawn August 13.

During this peak, under optimal conditions, observers can expect to see between 50 to 100 meteors per hour. This year, conditions are optimal, so expect it to be closer to 100 or more meteors per hour.

  • Find a Dark Spot: Light pollution severely limits the visibility of meteors. Escaping the city lights and heading to rural or less populated areas will greatly enhance the viewing experience.
  • Be Patient: Your eyes need about 20-30 minutes to adjust to the darkness. Once adjusted, you’ll be able to spot more meteors.
  • Look Northeast: Although meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, they will seem to originate from the constellation Perseus, which rises in the northeast.
  • Use the Naked Eye: Telescopes and binoculars limit your field of view. Meteors move swiftly across the sky, so your best bet is to lay back and take in as much of the sky as possible.

The Perseids are renowned for their bright and fast meteors. These meteors travel at speeds of up to 59 km/s (132,000 mph)!

Occasionally, observers might spot Perseid fireballs – these are larger explosions of light and color that persist longer than an average meteor streak. They are created when larger particles of comet debris enter Earth’s atmosphere.

A few of the brightest Perseids can leave behind a trail known as a “persistent train” – a glowing streak that lingers for a few moments after the meteor has disintegrated.

Cultural and historical significance

Throughout history, meteor showers have been met with a mix of awe, reverence, and fear. Ancient civilizations often associated meteor showers with gods, spirits, or important omens.

The Perseids have been observed for about 2000 years and were even referred to as the “tears of St. Lawrence” in medieval Europe, as the peak coincides with the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Christian saint.

Protecting our night skies

The beauty of the Perseids, like all meteor showers, serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of preserving our night skies. With the rise of urban development and the resultant light pollution, many people around the world are unable to witness these natural spectacles.

Organizations like the International Dark-Sky Association advocate for reducing light pollution, and everyone can play a role by adopting dark-sky friendly lighting in their communities.

The Perseids meteor shower is more than just an astronomical event; it’s a bridge to our past, a reminder of the vastness of our universe, and an opportunity to reflect on our place within it.

Year after year, as the Earth sails through the remnants of Comet Swift-Tuttle, we are gifted a spectacle that has inspired generations before us and will continue to inspire those after. Whether you’re an ardent astronomer or just someone looking up at the sky in wonder, the Perseids promise a dance of light worth staying up for.

More about meteor showers

Meteor showers are nature’s own fireworks, lighting up the night sky with streaks of brilliance. But what exactly are these shooting stars, and when can we best witness them? Let’s dive into the world of meteor showers.

What are Meteor Showers?

Meteor showers are events during which multiple meteors, or shooting stars, dart across the sky in a short period. Contrary to popular belief, these meteors aren’t stars at all.

They are small particles, often no bigger than a grain of sand, that burn up upon entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The bright streaks we see are the result of these particles vaporizing due to intense friction.

Where do they come from?

Meteor showers originate from comets. As comets orbit the sun, they shed a dusty trail. When Earth passes through these trails, the particles enter our atmosphere and become meteors. The radiant, or the point from which the meteors appear to emanate, corresponds to the part of the sky where the Earth encounters the comet’s path.

Notable meteor showers each year:


Occurring every August, the Perseids are among the most popular meteor showers. Originating from the comet Swift-Tuttle, they offer about 60-70 meteors per hour at peak.


Lighting up the December sky, the Geminids come from the asteroid 3200 Phaethon. With over 100 meteors per hour at their peak, they’re a winter favorite.


Every November, the Leonids, originating from the comet Tempel-Tuttle, make their appearance. They’re known for producing meteor storms roughly every 33 years.

Viewing tips

  1. Location Matters: Find a dark spot away from city lights. Light pollution greatly reduces visibility.
  2. Peak Times: Meteor showers have peak times where activity is highest. Check predictions for the best viewing times.
  3. Dress Warmly: Nights can get chilly. Dress in layers and bring blankets or reclining chairs for comfort.
  4. Patience is Key: Your eyes take about 20 minutes to adjust to the dark. Give yourself at least an hour for viewing to catch more meteors.


Meteor showers aren’t just beautiful; they’re educational. They teach us about the cosmos and our place within it.

However, as urban areas expand and light pollution increases, viewing these natural wonders becomes challenging. Campaigns like Dark Sky initiatives work towards reducing light pollution. Supporting such initiatives can ensure that future generations also get to witness these celestial wonders.

Meteor showers are a reminder of the dynamic universe we inhabit. These annual displays, resulting from the interplay between Earth and celestial debris, offer us moments of awe and wonder.

By understanding them better and taking steps to conserve our dark skies, we can ensure that these showers remain a source of inspiration for years to come.

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