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Climate and Environment

Get Ready To Look Up In The Night Sky At All Those Meteor Showers

Bright objects in the night sky appear in a very starry sky over a campsite.
The Perseids are set to peak Aug. 13, with the most visibility in the Northern Hemisphere.
(Menahem Kahana
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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Watch out for the shooting stars coming your way in the next few weeks.

LIGHT POLLUTION MAP
  • L.A.'s light pollution can make viewing a meteor shower tough. But fear not! This map can help you find the ideal spot with minimal artificial light.

The most popular meteor shower, known as the Perseids, is about to reach its peak — with up to 100 meteors per hour.

The Perseids are annual and are active between July and September. The warm summer weather makes it easier to be outdoors for viewing, NASA notes.

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The Perseids will peak Aug. 13 and be most visible in the Northern Hemisphere in the hours before dawn, but might be seen as early as 10 p.m. A bright, full moon will appear during the shower, which could affect visibility.

This meteor shower is known for what scientists call fireballs, which NASA describes as "larger explosions of light and color that can persist longer than an average meteor streak."

Here's how to view meteor showers from wherever you're looking up from Earth.

Gather all the details for the specific meteor shower

If you're viewing a meteor shower, you'll want to make sure you know the time of its peak, the radiant point and the phase of the moon, according to EarthSky. Otherwise, you might not get as much from your time outdoors.

The estimate for the meteor shower will always appear in UTC, which means Coordinated Universal Time.

You can convert UTC to your time zone by following the steps from EarthSky here.

The radiant point is not essential to seeing the meteor shower, though it can enhance your viewing. This is the point in the sky where the "shower of meteors seems to proceed," NASA notes.

EarthSky says meteor showers are visible even before their radiant rises to the sky.

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And it says that knowing the shower's number of meteors per hour will also give you a clearer sense of how often they appear.

The phase of the moon also affects visibility — a bright moon can severely diminish how well you can see the shower.

Know where to go

Light pollution — the excess of artificial lights in major cities and other industrialized areas — obstructs the view of meteor showers.

To make the most out of your viewing experience, try finding a darkly lit spot away from city lights. The darker your surroundings, the clearer the meteor shower will be.

Find a comfortable spot

When viewing a meteor shower, you'll want to make sure you're in a comfortable position with well-adjusted eyes.

NASA says in about 30 minutes, your eyes can adapt to the dark, which will make the showers much more visible.

Bring a blanket, lawn chair, sleeping bag, warm clothes (for cooler temperatures at night) — anything that could enhance your viewing experience and keep you warm into the later hours of the night and early morning.

Now, sit back, relax and enjoy. No telescopes or binoculars required.

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  • Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit npr.org.