The "very fast and bright meteors" will be active between July 14 and August 24, with a peak in mid-August, according to NASA

By Joelle Goldstein
July 13, 2021 07:14 PM
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Perseid Meteor Showers
Perseids Meteor Shower
| Credit: Jason Weingart/Barcroft Media via Getty

Summer is quickly passing by — but not without the ultimate meteor shower event!

The 2021 Perseids Meteor Shower, which is considered to be the best meteor shower of the year, is expected to start lighting up skies on Wednesday, according to NASA.

Known for fireballs, which are larger explosions of light and color that last longer than an average meteor streak, the Perseids typically light up skies on warm summer nights, leaving "long 'wakes' of light and color behind them," the space agency reported.

NASA believes the "very fast and bright meteors" will be active through August 24, with a peak expected for mid-August. (EarthSky.org predicts the peak will be Aug. 11-13.)

Under ideal conditions, skywatchers may see approximately 50-100 meteors per hour with each meteor traveling at 37 miles per second, per NASA.

Named after the constellation Perseus, the Perseids originate from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862 by astronomers Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle, NASA reported.

Perseid Meteor Showers
Perseids Meteor Shower
| Credit: Bob Riha Jr.,Getty

The celestial object takes 133 years to orbit the sun, meaning that the last time it made an appearance in the solar system was in 1992, according to the space agency.

NASA experts say the comet is also massive in size, measuring 16 miles wide — nearly twice the size of the object believed to have wiped out dinosaurs for good.

Because the meteors appear in all parts of the sky, it will be pretty easy to witness the celestial event from anywhere in the world, according to EarthSky.org.

To get the best show, it is advised to view the Perseids from the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours, ideally between 2 a.m. and dawn, NASA reported. In some cases, sky gazers may be able to see meteors during this shower as early as 9 or 10 p.m.

"If it's not cloudy, pick an observing spot away from bright lights, lay on your back, and look up! You don't need any special equipment to view the Perseids – just your eyes," NASA wrote on their site, adding that telescopes or binoculars are not recommended due to their small fields of view.

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"Remember to let your eyes become adjusted to the dark (it takes about 30 minutes) – you'll see more meteors that way," NASA added. "Try to stay off of your phone too, as looking at devices with bright screens will negatively affect your night vision and hence reduce the number of meteors you see!"

The moon's brightness will also affect viewing, according to NASA experts, who say its last quarter phase will reduce the visibility of meteors from more than 60 per hour to between 15 and 20.

For those who may be unable to view the Perseids in person, a live broadcast will be streaming from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, starting around 8 p.m. CDT on Aug. 11 and continuing through sunrise on Aug. 12.

Meteor videos recorded by the NASA All Sky Fireball Network will also be available each morning for those looking to see the Perseids.