The Perseid meteor shower is an annual event, and the peak meteor activity happens tonight! The forecast calls for a mostly clear sky, so hopefully we won't see too many clouds to obstruct our view. Here are the secrets to viewing this event and what you need to know to catch it:
What time should I go outside to view this meteor shower?
You may not love the answer to this question, but our best meteor gazing typically happens at the darkest part of the night -- which runs from 2 to 5 a.m. Thankfully, the moon is nearing the "new moon" phase, so it will produce very little light overnight, helping our viewing chances.
Where do I look?
Here's the good news about this event: You can see meteors anywhere in the sky. The key is getting away from city lights so that it is as dark as possible, lying flat on your back and being patient. But astronomer Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory did suggest that if you really want to hone in on this event, look to the east around midnight and slowly shift your focus more toward the southern sky before sunrise.
How many meteors will I see?
A lot of websites and articles say that 100 meteor or more per hour could occur tonight but Astronomer Dean Regas says that number is unrealistic for the average star gazer. "The more realistic number is a dozen per hour," says Regas.
Technically, the meteor shower lasts from July 17 to Aug. 24, but it's the peak that typically gets people excited because it's much easier to view and find meteors.
Do I need a telescope?
Is this year's event expected to be better or worse than previous years?
The Perseids have been off to a quick start to this week, with dozens of meteors already sighted -- and we haven't even hit the weekend peak. Regas says this should be the best event of the year when it comes to meteors but it's hard to say right now that this years event will be better or worse than prior years.