Perseid meteor showers are set to be a showstopper celestial event

The Perseid meteor shower will light up the sky in mid-August.

The Perseid meteor shower will light up the sky in mid-August. (Samuel de Roman, Getty Images)

ATLANTA — The Perseid meteor shower will grace the summer skies in mid-August as one of the biggest showers of the year.

The meteor shower will peak from midnight on Wednesday to dawn on Friday but actually runs from July 23 to Aug. 22, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Because the crescent moon will be setting early, the sky will be especially dark — which makes for an optimal viewing opportunity, according to NASA.

Stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere will have a better chance of seeing the meteors compared to those in the Southern Hemisphere, NASA said.

Up to 40 meteors will be available per hour to people whose in the Northern Hemisphere viewing locations are far from light pollution, according to NASA. Your chances drastically decrease to only a few per hour if you try to view the meteor shower in a city.

People living about 30 degrees south latitude in the Southern Hemisphere won't be able to view the shower at all, NASA added, and those above the line in the Southern Hemisphere will only be able to see a few meteors per hour.

For the best viewing chances, give your eyes at least 20 minutes to adjust to the night sky, according to EarthSky. Set aside at least an hour to see the sky because the meteors come in waves, they added.

The fragments come from the comet known as Comet Swift-Tuttle, also known as Comet109P, which takes 133 years to orbit the sun, NASA said.

There are more meteor showers you can catch during the remainder of 2021, according to EarthSky's 2021 meteor shower guide:

  • Oct. 8: Draconids
  • Oct. 21: Orionids
  • Nov. 4-5: South Taurids
  • Nov. 11-12: North Taurids
  • Nov.17: Leonids
  • Dec.13-14: Geminids
  • Dec. 22: Ursids

Solar and lunar eclipses

This year, there will be one more eclipse of the sun and another eclipse of the moon, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.

Nov. 19 will see a partial eclipse of the moon, and skywatchers in North America and Hawaii can view it between 1 a.m. ET and 7:06 a.m. ET.

The year will end with a total eclipse of the sun on Dec. 4. It won't be visible in North America, but those in the Falkland Islands, the southern tip of Africa, Antarctica and southeastern Australia will be able to spot it.

Visible planets

Skywatchers will have multiple opportunities to spot the planets in our sky during certain mornings and evenings throughout 2021, according to the Farmer's Almanac planetary guide.

It's possible to see most of these with the naked eye, with the exception of distant Neptune, but binoculars or a telescope will provide the best view.

Mercury will look like a bright star in the morning sky from Oct. 18 to Nov. 1. It will shine in the night sky from Aug. 31 to Sept. 21, and Nov. 29 to Dec. 31.

Venus, our closest neighbor in the solar system, will appear in the western sky at dusk in the evenings through Dec. 31. It's the second-brightest object in our sky, after the moon.

Mars makes its reddish appearance in the morning sky between Nov. 24 and Dec. 31, and it will be visible in the evening sky through Aug. 22.

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, is the third-brightest object in our sky. It will be on display in the morning sky through Aug. 19. Look for it in the evenings Aug. 20 to Dec. 31 starting earlier in August, it's at its brightest through Sept. 2.

Saturn's rings are only visible through a telescope, but the planet itself can still be seen with the naked eye in the evenings now through Dec. 31. It was at its brightest during the first four days of August.

Binoculars or a telescope will help you spot the greenish glow of Uranus in the mornings through Nov. 3 and in the evenings from Nov. 4 to Dec. 31. It will be at its brightest between Aug. 28 and Dec. 31.

And our most distant neighbor in the solar system, Neptune, will be visible through a telescope in the mornings through Sept. 13 and during the evenings from Sept.14 to Dec. 31.

It's at its brightest between July 19 and Nov. 8.

Megan Marples
    Ashley Strickland


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