Changing Planet

Tips for Enjoying the Perseid Meteor Shower

Perseid meteor streaking across the early morning skies. Credit: NASA

Look Up! Perseid meteors have started to rain down around the world.

According to early global observation reports over the weekend, pre-peak Perseid numbers are starting to ramp up, with some skywatchers already seeing as many as 30 shooting stars per hour. (see also: A Guide to Watching the Spectacular Perseids)

With the moon out of the way during peak meteor times between August 11 and 13 in the overnight hours, expectations are high for a good performance year from the Perseids. As many as 60 to 100 meteors per hour from a dark location may be in the offering.

Here are some tips on getting the most out of your meteor-watching experience:

1. There is no need for binoculars or telescopes to enjoy the celestial fireworks–just unaided eyes. Because the meteors can appear to streak across large parts of the sky, the human eye can soak in large portions of the overhead sky, offering a greater chance to catch one zipping by.

2. Give your eyes at least 15 to 20 minutes to adapt to the darkness of night when you step outside to view the shower. Try to avoid looking at any white lights while under the stars.

Flashlights, porch-lights and headlamps shining into your eyes can set you back as much as 30 minutes in terms of your night adapted vision. As an alternative, use a red colored flashlight for seeing when skywatching. The red color does not interfere with your night vision. It is easy to rig your own red light by taking a few layers of red cellophane gift wrapping and securing it to the end of the flashlight with a rubber band.

3. Seek out a dark location with as little light pollution as possible; the darker the better. More of the fainter meteors will be visible from the countryside, away from city lights.

Even from a suburban backyard or municipal park where there is no direct lights, at least 10 to 30 shooting stars per hour should be visible under clear skies.

For more sky events check out our weekly skywatching column.

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.


Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • Shil

    Excitement building up to witness the Perseid meteor shower.

  • julia spencer

    I was vey lucky to see a meteor pass over my house it took me back to 1967 or 1968 when I was a child at that time I witness a bigger meteorite and it scared the heck out of me but this one I saw tonight was soothing so t speak wow

  • Dan

    We saw 2 in 45 mn. No different than on any summer night.

    • Looks like a hit and miss, depending a lot on local sky conditions. I just got a report from Kingston, Ontario, Canada from a dark cottage country location of more than 130 meteors seen between 3 and 4:30 am this morning.

  • Farahdilla

    I can’t wait the showtime tonight..

  • David Ritchie

    During the hour between 10PM and 11PM, PST, we observed two major fireballs, and two lessor. Plus many incredible stars shooting by us. There is really nothing one can say to describe the emotions evoked.

  • Night Sky Triplets

    Haven’t seen one, still looking forward to it.. Wish us luck

  • Andres Heredia

    Too bad I live in the Bay Area where it’s always foggy and you can’t see sh*t 🙁

  • hanna mofokeng and family

    waiting impatiently for the showers!!!

  • andrew

    it is 10:50PM IST when will the meteor shower arrive

  • Deepraj

    Awesome i saw 2 in about 20 mins

  • Mandi

    We headed to Kolob Resevoir near Zion Nat’l Park last night and watched/dozed all night. I would say we averaged 2 per minute. Sometimes there would be a few minutes break and then we’d get a little burst. Other times they were pretty steady. A great experience for my kids!

  • Lottie

    Just seen three at 10:55pm

  • Darren

    Seen 10-12 in the past hour from my garden. Very impressive…. now I am freezing!!

  • Rachael

    Wow we’ve just seen about 15 in half an hour – so beautiful

  • libby

    Wow seen a few tonight with my son had to find a very dark location though Wow 🙂

  • Scott

    Saw 4 in 10 mins of varying brightness, one with a lingering tail.

  • Naomi Fitzgerald

    I seen 7 shooting stars from my garden in Bromley, SE London. And despite being so near London the last two were extremely bright and longer lasting than the previous five. They were a spectacular sight, and I’ll be waiting for them again tonight!

  • Fernando

    I sawed as early 9:55 P.M.Tuesday August 12 2013 one meteor. It was amazing. Just. Image. NOVEMBER 13 1833. HOW IT WAS EVERY WHERE IN NEW ENGLAND. And. Middle States in North America even Alaska. JESUS said ” The stars shall from heaven.” Matthew 24:29 a great book to read that related to these events and more prophethic The Great controversy page. 333 enjoy these showers even if is one . Thanks. FERNANDO Naples Florida

    ALASKA. Said Jesus:”The stars shall fall from heaven.” Matthew 24:29. The Great. Controversy by Ellen G. White. Explained these prophetic

  • sue leitch

    My boyfriend saw one he looked shocked and amazed as he described it to me !!!!!!!!! wasnt aware what it was

  • Jo

    Saw seven meteorites in one hour in Utah at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. Three were so small I was lucky to have seen. Three others very bright and going odd directions. But the One was spectacular with a large glowing center and a sparkling tail that stretched from the horizon on the north above the mountain up through Cassiopeia. Simply breathtaking . . .

  • Sarah Arnold

    Hey!Andres watch your mouth.So as I was saying this picture is rally pretty.

  • Sarah Arnold

    Oh,wait!it’s really pretty

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