Perseid meteor shower 2013: Catch the falling stars.


Every year around August 11 – 13, the Earth plows through the interplanetary debris left behind by comet Swift-Tuttle. As we ram into this cloud of tiny particles, they plummet through our atmosphere and burn up in an ephemeral and lovely streak of light called a meteor.

This year should be a good show; the Moon sets early, so dark skies will prevail. I have a guide I wrote for last year’s shower that still applies, so I’ve reposted it here. I’m in Australia right now, and it’ll be hard to get away from city lights to see them. So go out and watch them for me, OK?

How To Watch The Perseid Meteor Shower

The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks over the next few nights (typically around August 12), so this is the best time to go out and look. I have a guide on how to observe the shower and a couple of links, too, but first indulge me a moment to talk about meteor showers.

The Earth orbits the Sun, as do comets. Comets are lumpy collections of gravel and dust held together in a matrix of frozen ice (usually water and/or carbon dioxide). As they get near the Sun, the ice turns into a gas, freeing the dust and gravel. This material follows in the same path of the comet like dirt flying off a dump truck on a highway. Over time – millennia – it spreads out into space.

Written By: Phil Plait
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  1. Saw five shooting stars yesterday night in the mountains of the Lessinia National Park, north of Verona. Completely dark (except for the flashlights of enthusiasts like us). Beautiful sky, so full of stars!!

  2. Unfortunately there is a high level of light pollution around my home, but years ago while camping in a mountain valley, – with only light from the embers of a camp-fire, I sat with friends eating barbecued meats accompanied by a few cans, while the succession of Perseid streaks of light traced across the blackness around the Milkyway and the starlit sky.

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  4. Last night I was watching what I thought was a satellite tracking across the sky until it exploded in a flash of bright light…..Then I realised it must have been a meteor entering our atmosphere…Awesome…

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