How, When to See the Perseid Meteor Shower 2012

Chicago area viewers should be able to observe between 50-100 "shooting stars" per hour during the peak of this year's Perseid Meteor Shower on Aug. 11-12. No telescope needed: Just lie back and look at the show.

According to Astronomy.com, the Perseid Meteor shower has some added bonuses this year: It will occur on a night when the moon is in its waning crescent phase, which means the moonlight won't interfere with your view of the dashing meteors, and it's on a Saturday night, which means Chicago area viewers can stay up late and sleep in the next day.

You don't even need a telescope. Just spread out a blanket, maybe a late-night picnic, lie back and enjoy!  

Perseid Meteor Facts:

  • These meteors travel 37 miles per second!
  • The best time to view is after midnight.
  • The Perseid Meteors are cast-offs of the Swift-Tuttle comet, according to Space.com.
  • The shower began on July 23 and will peak the night of Aug. 11-12. 
  • Look toward the Perseus constellation, which forms an inverted "Y" shape and is in the northeast.
  • Some of the meteroids 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 to view:

  • You don't need a telescope to view this celestial event, so just head out to a dark spot.  
  • Away from city lights, so the further you get from town, the better your view will be. 
  • Allow your eyes some time to adjust to the darkness.

Do you have a favorite star gazing spot? Let us know in the comments below.


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