The most popular meteor shower of the year is this month, it’s the best time to see them

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Astronomers can rejoice! It’s time again for what is commonly referred to as “the best meteor shower of the year.”

The Perseid meteor shower, which even NASA says is “considered the best meteor shower of the year”, takes place every year from July 14 to August 24. , according to the American Meteor Society (AMS).

If the night and early morning are clear, you can expect to see up to 100 meteors crossing the sky per hour, traveling at 37 miles per second. Many will leave behind long “trails” of light and color as they pass through the Earth’s atmosphere. You can even see fireballs, which are “large, bright explosions of light and color” that appear longer than the typical meteor trail, NASA explains.

Why We See Meteor Showers

About the “size of a small town”, a comet is essentially a giant “dirty snowball” made of frozen gas with particles of rock and dust embedded in it, NASA explains. They originate outside the orbit of the outermost planets and then follow an elliptical orbit around the sun.

When comets orbit the sun, they leave behind what is essentially a trail of debris. Then, each year, as the Earth passes through these debris trails in its own orbit around the sun, the debris particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere. When this happens, the particles heat up to temperatures of around 3,000 degrees, creating contrails across the sky, Space.com explains.

The Perseid meteor shower

The bits of space debris that collide with Earth’s atmosphere every year to create the Perseid meteor shower were left behind by a comet named 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862 independently by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle, explains NASA.

Swift-Tuttle is a large comet, with a 16-mile-wide core. Interestingly, it takes Swift-Tuttle 133 years to orbit the sun.

However, meteor showers are not called comets. Instead, they are named after their radiant – or where they seem to come from. The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus, which, in turn, is named after the Greek hero of the same name. Perseus, who killed Medusa the Gorgon with snakes for hair, also saved his future wife Andromeda from a sea monster sent by Poseidon to destroy the coast and the land of Ethiopia.

How to watch the meteor shower

NASA notes that the Perseids are best visible in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours, although it is sometimes possible to see meteors from this shower as early as 10 p.m.

Watching a meteor shower is simple – and you don’t need a telescope. You don’t even need to know where the constellation Perseus is, because the meteors will seem to come from all directions in the sky.

All you have to do is get outside, lie on your back or lie in a chair and look up at the sky. After about 30 minutes your eyes will adjust to the darkness and you will start to see meteors. Remember not to check your phone for any reason, because then your eyes will have to adjust to the dark again.

Finally, the Perseid meteor shower may be the “best meteor shower of the year”, but that doesn’t mean it will be the only event in the night sky. The August full moon, the Sturgeon Moon, also rises that night and will shine brightly.

“The brightness of the full moon will wash the Perseids as they cross the sky during their peak nights, so your best shot to catch the Perseids will be a few hours before dawn, when the Moon is closer to setting,” according to Old Farmer’s Almanac.

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