While the peak of the Perseids meteor shower — one of the brightest of the year — may be next week, now may be the best time to see the astronomical event, according to The Weather Network.
Considered one of the strongest and brightest meteor showers, the Perseids occur from mid-July to late August as the Earth passes through a trail of icy debris left behind by a comet, Weather Network meteorologist Scott Sutherland wrote on Friday.
While the meteor shower is expected to peak on the nights of Aug. 12 and 13, Sutherland says light from the nearly full moon on Aug. 11 “will still wash out all but the brightest meteors.”
“Instead, go out this weekend to see the meteor shower because the view will get worse and worse throughout next week due to the moon,” he said.
The meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus that the meteors appear to be falling from.
The Canadian Space Agency says as many as 50 to 80 meteors can pass by the night sky per hour during the peak of the Perseids.
But right now, Sutherland says the meteor shower can produce between 20 and 30 meteors per hour.
He says, along with the full moon, artificial light from streetlights, signs and vehicles can also make it difficult to see the meteor shower.
The moon will set later each night, meaning viewers will have to stay up later and later to catch the moonless points of the evening as each day passes, Sutherland says.
He advises stargazers to get away from nearby cities to find the best viewing spots away from any light pollution.
How well you can see the meteor shower will also depend on whether the skies are clear, he says, adding viewers should give themselves at least 20 minutes for their eyes to adjust to the dark for the best meteor viewing. It also helps to avoid looking at your phone.
“Once you’ve verified you have clear skies and limited your exposure to light pollution, this is where being patient comes in,” Sutherland said.
“Note that this — more than anything else — is likely the one thing that causes the most disappointment when it comes to watching a meteor shower.”