Earthlings, get ready to slash all upcoming weekend plans for something bigger and brighter than anything this little world has to offer. It’s the “watching event” of the summer and you’re definitely not going to want to miss out. Really.
The Perseid Meteor Shower -- deemed one of the best and most popular of any given year, especially 2018 -- is making its way up front and center as soon as this oh-so-typical work week comes to an end (a.k.a. the weekend of August 12th) and nobody’s going to want to not watch the upwards of sixty to seventy meteors per hour that will be blasting on out proudly across the starry night sky.
So grab a seat come Saturday and Sunday night when the shower reaches its highest peak to spot plenty of shooting stars as well as maybe even some planets like Mars and Saturn depending on location, as SPACE.com notes.
What’s especially spectacular about this year’s annual astronomical event is that it takes place during a new moon that will be extremely favorable for the fireball-rich Perseids – and since it will also be “crescent” shaped, “will set before the Perseid show gets underway after midnight," says NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, allowing for darker skies, a better canvas for meteors, and a much more spectacular show all around.
In addition, the peak of the 2018 Perseids will last longer than most others because it will take planet Earth just about three weeks, from July 17 to August 24, to completely pass through the Comet Swift Tuttle – when Earth passes through the densest, dustiest areas – that occurs on August 12.
This year, the Perseids’ peak will officially begin at 4 p.m. EST on Sunday, August 12th, and will last all the way until 4 a.m. EST on Monday, August 13th.
Those dwelling in and around the Northern Hemisphere, which includes North America, Europe, and most of Asia, will be the lucky ones come celestial showtime because they will have the best views of the said meteors radiating out from the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky. Observers in the mid-Southern Hemisphere shouldn’t fret though, as they will still get plenty of chances to see more than a number of sparkling stars if they look onwards toward the northeastern horizon.
No matter which location, however, be sure to set up shop somewhere extremely dark, such as in the suburbs or countryside where there is no light pollution or large buildings and where as much of the sky is visible as possible. Absolutely no special equipment is ever needed, just tons of patience, relaxation, and the ability "to take in as much sky as possible," Cooke notes.
Pronounced a teeny bit like “Purse-y-id,” as this NASA video shows, the meteors were deemed Perseids because they appeared to radiate out of the constellation Perseus, better known as the mythical hero who chopped off Medusa’s gorgonic head and lived to tell the thrilling tale. Usually, it appears in the northern sky soon after sunset as if the meteors were raining like sparks dripping right from the Greek hero’s very own blade.
And for those that might need to miss out due to some unforsaken circumstance, make sure to livestream the showdown here.
Go out, find a dark space, pitch a tent, and look quickly on up, friends, cause tonight’s the night that the skies are going to start raging!