Meteor Shower – The Perseids

Persues - The Perseids Meteor Shower

Persues - The Perseids Meteor Shower

The Perseids Meteor Shower of August is one of the most famous astronomical summertime events. Some call the Perseids, “Ole Reliable” because every year it seems to deliver an extraordinary exhibit in the August skies. Because this meteor shower is best seen in the northern hemisphere it is usually accompanied by warmer weather and is more easily viewed by non-science enthusiasts.

The Perseids gets its name from the constellation Perseus because meteors seem to spread out from an area surrounding the constellation. This is called the shower’s radiant. This year, Perseids have been streaking across the sky since July 17 and slowly build up to be one of the best meteor viewing experiences of the year for people who reside in the northern hemisphere. Southern hemisphere viewers will not see as many meteors because Perseus barely rises above the horizon.

The Perseids Meteor Shower will peak this year in the morning of August 12 where meteors can be seen anywhere in the sky. To locate the showers radiant, one must look to the east/northeast in the hours after midnight. This shower is usually very active but this year a waning gibbous moon with 62% of the Moon’s visible disk illuminated probably will cause light interference and decrease the amount of visible meteors. The key to viewing any meteor shower is to find a safe, dark place away from man-made lights and lean back in a relaxing position looking toward the darkest part of the sky.

Meteor Shower Art

Meteor Shower Art

Meteor observation still remains one of the most difficult astronomical events to predict, but this year some scientists believe that the Perseids could produce up to 100 meteors per hour. Keep in mind this is an estimate based on perfect viewing conditions and results may vary for people in different locations. However, at the suggestion of some of my colleagues I’ve been asked to keep my reader’s expectations low and urge anyone interested in seeing meteors to not miss this great shower. I truly don’t know what to expect and for me that’s part of the excitement. Because Earth is passing through fragments created by the Comet Swift-Tuttle right now, the shower has already started and will be getting stronger each day until its peak on August 12th. MeteorBlog will be posting meteor facts several times before the peak date. You are welcome to comment on any one of the blog posts and ask questions. Most of the facts that I post will be informative and some will be just plain old-fashioned fun, I hope you enjoy. In the meantime, keep your head up!

- Meteor Mark

52 thoughts on “Meteor Shower – The Perseids

  1. I think we have just witnessed the shower in the South West of England but it was like all lights were drifting by slowly, hundreds of them.

  2. Nicole,

    Meteors don’t usually move too slow across the sky. Thanks for the comment, but I’m not sure what you saw.

    - Meteor Mark

  3. OMG well I don’t know what it was either then but it was very unusual. It looked like small lights/dots floating by. I took photos and the unusual thing is that you don’t see the dots on the photo but light flashes downwards and they are all identical.
    I don’t know if I can send you some of the photos?

  4. Nicole,

    It doesn’t sound like meteors to me. Meteors don’t float, they usually streak. I suggest going out and observing on August 12th in the morning. You will see the difference between meteors and what you saw, after that date comment on the site again.

    For more information please visit the meteor glossary and if you like the site, visit the “Thank Meteor Mark” section.

    - Meteor Mark

  5. about 8:40 EDT usa eastern va. seen a large 7sec. green shooting star that came so close i heard a large boom about 12 sec.after it dissappered right before sunset

  6. Stretch,

    The “boom” probably was a sonic boom that occurs when a fireball or bolide like you saw breaks the speed of sound.

    By the way, it sounds awesome! You may want to use the search feature in the upper right hand corner and search for “colors”, there is a good post about why meteors are certain colors.

    - Meteor Mark

    8/1 Re: Eastern Virginia Fireball Meteor August 1

  7. NH, last night between 8 and 9 sitting on my deck I saw a bright green streek across the low southern sky. At first I thought it was a shooting star but it was different,it was slower and had a green hue around it. I decided to search to see if I could find any info about it, and am now sure it was a meteor. I did not hear any noise only light.

  8. Last evening August 1 around 8:35 PM I saw a large streaking light that appeared to burn out in the SSW sky (in Mass.). Unlike Stretch, what I saw was very white. I have seen meteor showers before and this was nothing like that – it appeared much bigger – close to the same diameter of the moon. I was driving so did not notice a sonic boom. There were no stars out in the sky yet. I am curious as to what it was. Any help? Thanks!

  9. Eric,

    Thanks for the comment from New Hampshire!

    Martha,

    From your description it sounds like it could have been a large fireball. Remember fireballs & meteors are not stars. Have a look at the glossary in the upper right hand corner and if you have any other questions, feel free to comment again.

    To all meteor gazers if you have enjoyed this blog, please visit the “Thank Meteor Mark” section on the right hand side of the blog.

    In the meantime bookmark the site and keep your head up!

    - Meteor Mark

  10. So for the Aug. 12th shower, is it First thing Wed. @ 12am? I’m sorry, the use of morning and midnight together confuses me. In the “Thank Meteor Mark” section, what exactly are we donating to/for?

  11. I have not seen any other reports of this fireball on our local weather blogs, but I will keep looking. This is a great resource and I will definitely keep it bookmarked! I am a closet astronomer (don’t have a clue about much but am in awe of the cosmos)

    Martha,

    If you start seeing stars or meteors when you’re in the closet then that would be a problem. Have fun, meteors are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to space and astronomy.

    Thanks,

    Meteor Mark

  12. We saw what sounds like what Martha saw, ~ 8:35, 8/1/09, SSW low in the sky over Falmouth, MA. It looked bluish/white to us.

  13. Sheila,

    The meteor shower will be peaking on Wednesday morning August 12, 2009. In any time zone get out before dawn on Wednesday or after 12:01 AM on Wednesday. I understand your question and actually a lot of people have a similar confusion.

    There is no obligation on anyone’s part to feel they should make a monetary contribution, the “Thank Meteor Mark” section goes toward maintaining the site and as it says, “Have you enjoyed your stay at meteorblog.com? Have you found the information useful? Your kind contribution to Meteor Mark is greatly appreciated.”

    You can read more about me in the ABOUT page on the top right corner too.

    Hopefully this clarifies everything for you. If you have any more questions, please ask, I’m happy to help.

    - Meteor Mark

  14. I found your site out of curiousity about something my husband and I saw Sat. evening, August 1. We were in the Nashua, NH area, driving south. We saw a brilliant streak, very low in the sky; didn’t look like a typical “shooting star.” From your postings, it must have been the same fireball that Martha saw. Thanks for the info!

  15. Ruth E,

    Yes quite possibly the same event! Sounds like it was an awesome sight! Keep your head up!

    - Meteor Mark

  16. Hi, I live in cheshire north west england, I am likely to get a good view of peak of the meteor shower
    saw a fantastic shower couple of years ago but since then our view has been blocked by clouds, i am really looking forward to it so keeping fingers crossed for a clear night,
    thanks sharon

  17. Martha and Ruth,

    I witnessed the same event from Danbury, CT at approximately 8:35PM on August 1st, 2009. I saw a bright white streak just under the 3/4 moon. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime events that was so magnificent and unusual that it leaves you at a loss for words. The streak moved from East to West while I was gazing South. I wasn’t sure if I had just seen a plane break up in the sky, so I called the Danbury Airport tower to see if they saw it too. Even though they would have had a perfect view, nobody in the tower witnessed it. It really was over in a second, but was MUCH larger in appearance than any other “shooting star” I have ever witnessed. It looked broad, like a large paintbrush had painted a streak, then it vanished in a straight vertical line as if it had suddenly burned out or made it through the atmosphere. From my perspective, it appeared about 1/3 the height of the moon, which was sitting right above the streak, and the leading edge appeared straight up and down, not rounded, in the Southern sky. My wife was sitting next to me in our car and didn’t see a thing so you can imagine the jokes I’m getting about my eyesight. As luck would have it, my coworker’s uncle-in-law is Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, who is now involved in large object detection and International awareness. We’ve sent an email to him to see if he has any insight.

  18. I saw the same fireball from my south-facing window in eastern, upstate NY sometime between 8:30-8:45 pm on August 1. It was a brilliant white light (similar to the type of white light from a halogen bulb), much brighter and almost as large as the moon. It started out under the moon and then streaked to the SSW for a few seconds before breaking up into intense, bright colors. The colors made a bit of a band and then disappeared.
    It was a nice evening, so I was surprised that I couldn’t find anyone else who saw it- and nothing on the news.
    I’m glad to find out I’m not the only one who saw this. It was spectacular!

  19. Just caught a glimpse of something, startled me. Found this is web site and am glad I was outside at 0415am. This meteor was amazing in duration and color. Thanks for the information from Bethany Beach, Delaware.

  20. I saw the same thing on AUgust 1st. Myself and my wife were driving at about 8:35pm. We were driving on Rt. 54 which is the Delaware / Maryland border road and it streaked across the sky to the east of us. It was Blue and White from our perspective. Had a long tail trailing and was faily big. I am glad other saw this as well.

  21. how well will i see the persieds meteor shower in albany NY? i live in the outskirts where there is a large viewing of the sky? and and what time should i look for them? thanks you!

  22. Cordelia,

    This post: Perseids Meteor Shower

    applies to people living in the northern hemisphere which encompasses Albany, NY.

    Check out that post and then let me know if you have any other questions. You may also want to check out the Meteor Viewing Page in the top right corner.

    Keep your head up!

    - Meteor Mark

  23. I too saw the meteor on Aug 1 at about 8:30 from Enfield Connecticut. It made a BIG impression on me. I never saw a streak so cool across the sky. I remembered it having a greenish tint and leaving a trail. Made a wish on it….. ;)

  24. Mike,

    Hope it comes true. Don’t forget the Perseids August 12th.

    Meteor Mark

  25. Talking to mom tonight while in El Segundo at 11pm. Living near LAX you are use to all kind of lights in the evening skies. Then a sharp, bright light zoom across the night sky going night and as quick goes out. Meteor? Well it brought me to this site and I will be watching for the shower on the 12th of this month. Such a surprise.

  26. Hi everyone! Was wondering when I should try to view the comet showers in Beijing, China! Thanks for the input.

  27. Patrick,

    The Perseids Meteor Shower is supposed to peak at 17:44 UT on August 12th. I believe that would be 01:44 Beijing Time on August 13th if in fact your time zone is GMT+8.

    Hope this helps.

    - Meteor Mark

  28. Andre

    I have but one question, i live in south Georgia would i see anything on aug. 12th. I am willing to look up and search the heavens all night if i have to, but not for nothing

    THANKS

  29. Andre,

    Meteor showers are usually morning events so keep your eyes on the skies in the morning of August 12th between midnight and dawn, you may have a second chance to view later on Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The best day for Georgia residents should be Wednesday morning.

    Keep your head up!

    - Meteor Mark

  30. I will be in Western North Carolina on the 14th and 15th of Aug.
    The area is remote and very dark! I was wondering if i would still be able to see a good show ? I have watched this meteor shower before and it was awesome! If u ever get a chance to watch this summertime stargazing event while swimming in a mountain lake do it!! it is the best way to watch…floating!

  31. Mark,

    You just wrote that “Meteor showers are usually morning events”

    Why is that so? How a morning is different than an evening in this case?

    I have never seen Meteor showers in my life, and I am really hoping to see them this year.
    Thanks for all the information.

    regards,
    Shobhit

  32. To LA LA,

    I would suggest taking a look, I can’t guarantee a yes or no, let me know if you see any, the shower remains active until August 24th.

    and to Shobhit,

    Please look at these two pages and let me know if this clarifies the reason for you:

    Meteor Shower Viewing
    When To Look

    Keep your head up.

    - Meteor Mark

  33. Meteor Mark,
    Could a meteor actually come down and hit the roof of a house?

  34. Lisa,

    It could happen. But it is extremely rare. I can recall only one incident that I know of where one hit a roof. Meteors usually disintegrate from the heat because the atmosphere acts as our defense mechanism. Did you know that your home owner’s insurance policy may or may not cover you if one actually did? It would be under the “falling objects” section :)

    I wouldn’t worry too much it’s very rare, thanks for the post.

    - Meteor Mark

  35. I saw a huge fireball in the sky on June 18/19 – I was on night watch, sailing from Malta to Corfu. It was impossible to tell how close it is but there was a lot of shooting star activity in the hours leading up to that. I then saw the fireball which seemed to burn out just above the surface of the sea. Our heading was more or less 50 degrees and it was just off my starboard bow. Would love to hear if anyone else saw this!

  36. If it’s peaking on the 12th, what will it be like on the night of the 8th?

  37. Andy,

    Worth a look, no guarantees for good or bad. This is a strong meteor shower.

    - Meteor Mark

  38. I saw the same thing that everyone else saw on august 1st, except I live in Texas. I was coming back from a trip, at around 8:30 pm., I looked at the sun beginning to set, and it looked like a stick, or straight line going through the sun. I got my family to look at it as well, we pulled over and got about 8 pictures of the thing. Not sure what it was, but, the last few pictures show a tail that is breaking a part. very interesting, and unusual. no sound. funny thing was, it was not streaking across the sky. it was coming straight down, sort of at an angle…have pics if anyone is interested.

  39. Sheri,

    I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I doubt you saw the same event that people saw in the New England Area. Fireballs are not usually visible from distances that far. Sounds like a similar event, but not the same event. Thank you for your comment.

    - Meteor Mark

  40. was camping down the south of England August 8th and witnessed what we assumed was a shooting star, though after the initial viewing we witnessed several more, which led to me looking into it and finding this website.

    Dan,

    Thanks for the comment. Get ready for August 12th in the morning.

    - Meteor Mark

  41. Wed. is August 12th and I think the morning of August 12th after midnight is Thursday – or is it?? Or do you mean Tues. day and then Wed. night?
    Please respond, want to invite friends up.
    Thank you!
    Peace,
    Shauna

  42. I will be at a very dark site to view the shower. I plan on taking many timed photos to catch some Persieds. With the moon so close to the radiant, what would be the best direction to point my wide angle DSLR to catch some meteors, I know you point or watch away from the radiant anyways Towards Polaris maybe? Any other suggestions? Thanks.

  43. Richard,

    Meteor observing still remains the most difficult astronomical event to predict. The moon will be in the radiant as you seem to know, my suggestion is try a few dark spots over a three hour period. Start by positioning it to the E/NE above Ursa Major near Ursa Minor (Polaris) if in fact it is dark in that part of the sky.

    Contact me if you get some shots!

    - Meteor Mark

  44. Shauna,

    You’re not alone I get asked this a lot. If you’re in the USA you should look on August 12th Wednesday between 12:01 AM and dawn. The “morning of August 12th after midnight” is August 12th Wednesday morning before sunrise.

    Keep your head up!

    - Meteor Mark

    For best results please observe at a time closest to the peak when it is darkest in your time zone.

  45. This afternoon in Blacksburg, Virginia, I was fortunate to hear the arrival of the Persieds thanks to a friend who tuned his shortwave radio antenna and frequency to hear them plowing through the atmosphere. Given the screams on the radio set, activity is picking up. The short ionized streams give off short squeals, while the larger and longer meteor streams give off a long high pitch whine gradually going to a lower pitch as the meteor dissipates. It was a really cool experience to actually hear these extra-terrestrial objects enter our atmosphere. Will begin looking for visuals tonight, but will certainly spend most of Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning ooking for the best ones (weather permitting.) If you know someone with good antenna and radio set, it is well worth the experience of listening to these out-of-this-world sounds.

    Hokie,

    This is true. They make little blurpy sounds and sometimes long drawn out whistles it is cool!

    - Meteor Mark

  46. Hi…:) I was wondering if it was possible to see the shooting stars the night of August 10th? I am from Italy and their we celebrate this day and we go out to see the shooting stars. I am in the U.S. this summer was wondering if it was possible.
    Thank u…:)

  47. Will we be able to see much of the Perseids down here on the east coast of Australia?

    Steve

    Yes, Steve, just not as many as in the Northern Hemishpere. – Meteor Mark

  48. The forecast for my city says it will rain during the night of the 11th-12th. Would it be possible to see the Perseids the following night?

  49. So a bunch of friends heard there was going to be a meteor shower this week, and we are planning on watching it, but someone thought it was Tuesday. . .I live in Montana, so should be we out watching Tuesday night or Wednesday night? Thanks for your post; your info on this site is really interesting, and we are all really excited to maybe see some meteors!

    Hi Chelsea,

    For Montana It would be August 12th in the morning when the shower is strongest this means 12:01 AM onward.

    - Meteor Mark

  50. The shower peaks in the morning of August 12th and will be active until August 24th.