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Your Guide to the Perseid Meteor Shower: When and Where to See Meteors

Between midnight and dawn are the best times to catch the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks Aug. 11, 12 and 13. Where's your favorite skywatching spot on the Vineyard? Tell us in the comments.

On Martha's Vineyard, the beach is a natural place from which to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower. (Patch file photo)
On Martha's Vineyard, the beach is a natural place from which to watch the annual Perseid meteor shower. (Patch file photo)

Written by Beatrice Karnes

The Perseid meteor shower is already underway and will continue through Aug. 24. The peak viewing will be Aug. 11–13. Stargazers could see upward of 60 meteorites flash before them per hour.

According to Astronomy.com, the Perseid meteor shower peak has some added bonuses this year: It will occur when the moon is in its waning crescent phase, which means the moonlight will interfere only slightly with your view of the meteors.

On Martha's Vineyard, the beach is a natural place from which to watch the sky. (Just make sure you're not on a beach that is closed to the public at night, get prior permission before skygazing from private property and check for ticks when you get home.)

You don't even need a telescope. Just pick a place with a good view of the night sky, as far from bright lights as possible, and don't forget to give your eyes a few minutes to adjust to the darkness.

Watch the YouTube video uploaded above for more information on Perseids, via NASA.

Perseid Meteor Trivia:

  • Mankind has looked up at the Perseids for nearly 2,000 years.
  • The Perseids are remnants of the Swift-Tuttle comet, which orbits the sun every 133 years.
  • These bits of comet "ice and dust" are more than 1,000 years old.
  • These meteors travel 37 miles per second.
  • The Perseids can be seen all over the sky, but the best viewing opportunities will be across the northern hemisphere.
  • Those with sharp eyes will see that the meteors radiate from the direction of the constellation Perseus, which forms an inverted "Y" shape and is in the northeast.
  • Some of the meteorites are as small as a grain of sand, but they have the kinetic energy of a nuclear bomb!
  • If you see a very slow, bright object sailing across the sky, it's either a satellite or a Space Station.

Where and how to view:

  • The best time to view will be Aug. 11, 12 and 13 from midnight to dawn.
  • Avoid bright lights. The farther you get from town, the better your view will be.
Where's your favorite skywatching spot on the Vineyard? Tell us in the comments.

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