Perseid meteor shower 2020: How and when to watch it peak overnight

The most popular meteor shower around is coming to the sky for the grandest performance it can muster — for one night only.

Not only will tonight’s Perseid meteor shower feature more than 60 meteors per hour — considered to be a large quantity — but it will also include even brighter fireballs. Both are set to move extremely quickly, making for a jaw-dropping streak across the sky.

What is the Perseid meteor shower?

The Perseids peak annually in mid-August, and thanks to its high-density, fast-moving meteors and fireballs paired with the late summer weather, NASA has written that Perseid meteors — which consist of debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle — “are considered the best meteor shower of the year.”

When is the Perseid meteor shower and what time will it peak?

The Perseid meteors have been streaking across Earth’s skies since late July, but they are set to peak in Wednesday’s pre-dawn. Beginning Tuesday at 9 p.m. local time and continuing through the night until the after-midnight peak, a smattering of Perseids will be visible to the naked eye. For the shower’s grand finale, NASA recommends curious earthlings look up between 2 a.m. and dawn, whenever that may be where you are.

Unfortunately, this year’s shower will be somewhat impeded by the fact that the moon is currently in its last quarter phase. Its brightness will reduce the number of visible meteors to 15 to 20 per hour, despite the fact that more than 60 will be shooting by. Only the fireballs and brighter meteors will stand out in the moon’s strong glow.

Where and how can I watch it?

The shower will happen all across the sky and can be seen around the world. NASA actually recommends against using telescopes or binoculars to try to spot Perseids, as they restrict the field of view.

Instead, the space agency says the best way to spot the intergalactic light show is to hope the night will not be cloudy, find a spot away from bright lights, lie on your back, let your eyes become adjusted to the dark for roughly 30 minutes before (this includes doing your best to not use your phone or other glowing technology) and looking up.

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