How to view the Perseids, the year’s best meteor shower

A bright Perseid meteor is seen at Big Meadows in Shenandoah National Park. (WTOP/Greg Redfern)

The best meteor shower of the year, the Perseids, will take place Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

The Perseid Meteor Shower is ramping up to its peak, and bright Perseid meteors have already been spotted by avid sky watchers. All the tips and information you need to partake in this wonderfully enjoyable and relaxing event can be found here.

Shenandoah National Park has had to cancel its Annual Night Sky Festival due to the ongoing pandemic here on Earth, but the park itself is open and rooms can be booked with places to eat and facilitate your stay.

Shenandoah, especially at Big Meadows, is a great place to see the Perseids. The Charlottesville Astronomical Society will be hosting a night sky viewing session Aug. 12 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. eastern time. There may be a crowd, so remember to wear a mask and practice social distancing for your own safety as well as that of others.

The Moon will be bright when it rises at midnight and will interfere with the number of Perseids we can see this year, but it is well worth looking anyway.

The Perseids can produce bright meteors, even fireballs, and Shenandoah is the perfect place in our area to view them. Even living near D.C. allows sky watchers to see the brighter meteors.

Due to light pollution, 80% of Americans cannot see the dust lanes of the Milky Way Galaxy, our home galaxy.

At Shenandoah, especially this time of year, the Milky Way is a celestial splendor that can be seen sprawling across the sky from the south to the north as soon as the sky gets dark. Many guests to the park have never seen it, and some are moved to tears when they view the milky band for the first time.

The Moon will be out of the sky until midnight, so take in the Milky Way before hand. The brighter Perseids will be able to overcome moonlight, so keep at it all night no matter where you are. Get comfortable with a lounge chair, some snacks, libations and deep breaths.

So here’s to clear skies for the Perseids!

Perseid meteors appear to streak away from a point near the constellation Perseus. (Courtesy Sky & Telescope)

Follow my daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email me at skyguyinva@gmail.com.

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