Perseid meteor shower peak: When and where you can see it
The show of the summer has arrived, but it's not at your local movie theater. The Perseid meteor shower returns every year between July and August, offering sky-gazers a chance to enjoy the last weeks of the sweltering season outside, looking up at the night sky.
According to NASA, the Perseids are most active from July 17 to Aug. 24. The peak this year, when the most meteors will shoot across the sky, is expected to be Aug. 11-13.
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Depending on where you are in the Northern Hemisphere, you could spot up to 40 meteors per hour during the peak.
The Perseid meteors are pieces of the comet Swift-Tuttle. When Earth passes the comet each summer, debris from Swift-Tuttle creates the shooting stars we see in the sky. According to NASA, there is no chance our planet will soon run into the comet.
FILE - In this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Spruce Knob, West Virginia. (Bill Ingalls/ NASA via Getty Images)
The biggest thing you need to view the meteor shower is a clear sky above you. The second most crucial viewing condition you want is a dark sky away from light pollution. If you live in a big city, consider going to a state or national park that allows overnight camping. However, even if you can step outside wherever you live, let your eyes adjust to the darkness for a few minutes and then look up. This includes putting down your phone.
Linda Mazzu, with the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, says hands down Bryce Canyon National Park is the best dark sky park in the U.S.
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Unfortunately, the August full moon happens on Aug. 11, which could put a damper on the view.
"Sadly, this year’s Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters," NASA astronomer Bill Cooke said in a post. "Most of us in North America would normally see 50 or 60 meteors per hour," he said, "But this year, during the normal peak, the full Moon will reduce that to 10-20 per hour at best."
Another thing going against the Perseids this year and most summers is the active pattern of thunderstorms for the southwest and southeast, typical for this time of year.
Where is the best place to watch the Perseid meteor shower?
Looking at the cloud cover forecast through this week, parts of the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic will have a hard time looking for shooting stars as cloud cover increases on Wednesday.
Throughout the week, the upper Midwest and Central Plains will have mostly cloudless skies for viewing the night sky.
Wednesday's cloud cover forecast for the U.S. (FOX Weather)
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Friday is the predicted meteor shower peak. Montana, Idaho, North and South Dakota and Nebraska will have the best views of the meteor shower with clear sky and low light pollution.
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Overnight Friday and Saturday will continue to be a good time for sky gazers in Seattle with almost no cloud cover in the forecast.
Regardless of where you live, the Perseid Meteor Shower continues until Aug. 24, and there is plenty of time for the forecast to align in your sky-viewing favor.
If you plan to observe the meteor shower on a specific day, use the FOX Weather app "Plan" tab to add your dates and get updated forecasts leading up to your viewing event.