Search Results for: Perseid

Enjoy the Perseid Shower and Count Shooting Stars for Science

The Perseus constellation, viewing source of the annual Perseid meteor showing.

Earth is once again passing through left-over material from Comet Swift-Tuttle providing us with the annual stellar artistic show of the Perseid Meteor Shower. The best nights to view will be August 11 through 13, 2012 anytime after 10 or 11 pm. The dark sky far from city lights just before dawn is expected to provide the optimal viewing experience. To add to this celestial delight, will be a crescent Moon in alignment with Jupiter and Venus viewable in the eastern sky in the early morning hours.

Focus your gaze toward the Perseus constellation not too far up from the horizon in the north to north-east direction. (Review a detailed sky map.) In darker conditions it might be possible to observe as many as one hundred per hour. If you are in a safe location–in other words, not near a country road–take a blanket and lie down on the ground for a comfortable and relaxing night of sky magic.

If you are fortunate enough to see many meteorites, it’s always fun to count your way to a world record. However, for more than just personal entertainment, NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office is very interested in knowing precisely how many you see. In fact, they have developed a citizen science smart phone app called ‘Meteor Counter‘ for iPhone and Android to assist anyone in scientifically providing accurate observation counts to the NASA research team. With these crowd-sourced counts, NASA can further develop models of the Perseid meteor debris stream, which will guide future safety plans for orbiting spacecraft.

Perseid Meteor Shower Image from

Of course, not everyone in the Northern hemisphere will have optimal viewing experiences. However, online activities and live viewing of the shower will be available for those late night couch potatoes who would prefer to avoid the hot dog days of August. Courtesy of the great, a real-time Perseid Meteor show image gallery is available for viewing actual photos uploaded from amateur astronomers around the world. On the night of August 11 and 12, a live “Up All Night Chat” is also being hosted by NASA with astronomer Bill Cooke and colleagues where they will answer your questions and you will join them in a live video and audio feed of the shower. 

So, however you are able to view this spectacle–either interactively online or roaming in the countryside–the annual Perseid meteor shower is a beautiful moment that must be relished. We experience our days focused on the minutia of effectively living in our society, but it is so inspiring to step away, if for only an hour in the middle of the night, to remember that we are only a minuscule element in an amazingly massive and gorgeous universe.



Perseid Meteor Shower from Your Couch

This August was the annual Perseid Meteor shower (read more from DPR), and hopefully you had a chance to catch a flash, or two. However, if it was just too inconvenient for your schedule–yes, some of us do have to work in the morning!–or, if getting away from the city lights costs too much at the gas pump, then, thanks to the skills of many amateur astro-photographers (learn how to become one yourself), you may still view the shooting beauties from the comfort of your computer monitor. presents a great photo gallery collection of images submitted from observers from all over the world [ VIEW ]. Here’s an amazing image from Jeff Berkes who was apparently on his honeymoon…

Perseid meteor over Poi Pu, Kauai from Jeff Berkes.

You may also review the Perseid 2010 report compiled by the International Meteor Organization [ VIEW ], which includes an interesting graph of reported observation rates.

And finally, photographer Henry Jun Wah Lee of Los Angeles and Evosia Photography, completed an interesting time-lapse videos of Perseid meteors with the inspiring backdrop of the galactic center of the Milky Way…

So, enjoy these great views of falling debris from previous near-passes of Comet Swift-Tuttle, and maybe consider planning a late evening or two next year far out from the city and try to catch a few memorable Perseids yourself.

Get Ready for the Perseid Meteor Shower this Week

Looking northeast around midnight on August 12th-13th; from NASA Science News

This week will include the peak evenings for the annual Perseid meteor shower. Although sky watchers have already seen a few exciting fireballs already, August 12 and 13 are expected to be the primary nights for viewing.

And this year, there will be an exciting pre-showing of planetary alignment in the west with Mars, Venus, and Saturn formed in a close triumvirate, and the crescent moon and Mercury a few clicks away (view a sky map). Once this special arrangement has set around 10 pm–which includes the Moon this year, so dark viewing should be optimal!–then the main attraction for the evening soon begins and will last until the Sun returns for the day.

The Perseids are pieces in the wide debris field left over from the 133-year cycle of Comet Swift-Tuttle. And, this comet is a big one, with a nucleus around 16.8 miles wide. The comet’s path follows particularly close to the Earth and Moon, and it was not long ago in 1992 that its calculated orbit was quite off from the latest observation. So far off that it was predicted that the next passage in 2126 could strike the Earth. Additional research was compiled to discover records of more ancient observations, and along with new direct observations puts the calculated orbit in safe distances for at least the next two thousand years.

On September 15 in the year 4479, humanity’s safety (or whomever or whatever is still hanging around the planet) might be more of a concern, however, as Comet Swift-Tuttle is predicted to come as close as 2.8 million miles. Certainly this moment is a way off, so hopefully we’ll have enough time to develop useful deflection technologies for such massive bodies. In the mean time, just sit back and enjoy the annual showing of Comet Swift-Tuttle bits burning up in our atmosphere.

You can track the calculated orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle through the year 2201 with the JPL Small-Body Database Browser (launch the database of 109P/Swift-Tuttle).

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“Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower” :: NASA Science News :: August 5, 2010 :: [ READ MORE ]

Amateurs Watch the Perseids on the Moon

In late July, we reminded you to “look up” in early August to enjoy the annual Perseid meteor shower (read). Hopefully, many of you had an enjoyable and awe-inspiring experience (this author went out and saw one flash in the corner of his eye, but had to get back into bed for an upcoming long day). This year, a few amateur astronomers took their ‘looking up” a step further beyond Earth’s upper atmosphere, and focused their telescopes onto the surface of the Moon. Amazing bright flashes of meteor explosions on the surface of the Moon were seen using typical backyard telescopes!

This specific form of moon-gazing is actually quite important right now, as NASA has a program established to monitor meteor activity on the surface of the Moon. This effort is to better understand the safety requirements for the next generation of astronauts who will hopefully set up camp for a while.

The Lunar Impact Monitoring program at the Marshall Space Flight Center trains its telescopes toward the Moon as frequently as possible, but Moon phases and atmospheric conditions will often limit their coverage. In fact, they were unable to monitor the Moon during the Perseids. So, developing a world-wide team of amateur astronomers will greatly enhance the programs ability to accurately predict and monitor meteor activity, which will lead to better considerations for activity recommendations for lunar landings and extended camps.

DPRI already features this important citizen science project in our collection of Amateur Science Opportunities, and we will plan to write a more thorough review of the program in the near future.
“Amateur Astronomers See Perseids Hit the Moon” :: Science@NASA News :: September 2, 2008 :: [ READ ]

Perseids Meteors coming in August

Beautiful falling space debris from the latest 1992 passing of Comet Swift-Tuttle will once again grace our sky early in the morning of August 12, 2008. Drive far away from city lights and venture with your family and friends to enjoy the show. The Perseid meteor shower should provide another good viewing this year with possibly one to two meteors each minute.

Read the following NASA news article to learn more and plan for a show of nature that will certainly be exciting and fun to watch.

“The 2008 Perseid Meteor Shower” :: Science@NASA Headline News :: July 22, 2008 :: [ READ ]

Last updated October 22, 2021