What is it: When Earth crosses the orbit of Swift-Tuttle, a comet that orbits the Sun every 133 years, the debris cloud of Swift-Shuttle hit Earth’s atmosphere. The debris travel at around 59 kilometers per second and peak temperatures can reach anywhere from 1600 to 5500 deg C, thus burning up as they speed across the sky and causing the celestial spectacle of multitude of shooting stars. Even though the meteors are part of Swift-Tuttle, it is called Perseids Meteor Shower, because they appear to originate from the Perseus constellation.
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When to See the Perseid Meteor Shower:
Earth crosses the comet’s debris cloud every year. The shower is visible from middle July to middle of August (July 16 – August 23, 2020), and the peak shower takes place around second week of August (August 11 to 13 this year) as the Earth crosses the thick of the cloud.
Perseids will peak between midnight and dawn on the morning of August 11 to 13. If the sky is cloud-free, you can expect to see 40 to 100 meteors per hour this year. The shower’s peak is on the morning of August 12, 2020.
This year the moon is in its third-quarter on August 11, 2020. Though not exactly ideal, it is much better than having a full moon blocking the view.
How & Where to see 2020 Perseid Meteor Shower:
Required Conditions: Clear Sky away from city lights — Check clear sky (cloud) conditions in your area –here.
–The best way to see it is get away from city lights, preferably to Dark Sky Preserves*. If not, to open sky areas (so that you have a 360 deg view of the sky) away from city lights like provincial/regional parks (where you can typically see a million stars on a clear starry night ) around midnight and look up — Northeast at the sky. If you live in the countryside there is a good possibility that you can see the meteor shower from your yard.
To find reasonably dark areas near your location, check the darkskyfinder map. Search for a park (or a safe place with no streetlights away from roads/traffic) within the areas coloured dark (mustard) yellow, green, blue, grey or black (transparent). (Before travelling, please check cloud cover.)
— Make sure you switch off the phone and your eyes need ~ 30 minutes to get adjusted to the dark. If you are carrying a flashlight, cover it with red cellophane wrap or some kind of red filter, so that it doesn’t interfere with viewing.
— Watch the night sky for at least 15 to 20 minutes for a chance to spot meteors. At its best, the shower can produce more than 80 meteors per hour. You can see the shower with naked eyes and do not need astronomy equipment.
— Take a blanket or a lawn chair so that you can sit comfortably to watch the shower.
2020 Perseid Meteor Shower Parties and Other Dark Sky Events
Usually, RASC chapters across the country hold various events including astronomy presentations and telescopic night time views of the Moon, Planets and Deep Sky Objects. This year due to COVID-19, there are not many guided in-person Perseid Meteor Shower events.
- Star Party at H.R. MacMillan Space Centre , Vancouver @ August 12th from 10:00pm – 12:30am: a live in-person outdoor Star Party at the Space Centre, along with a YouTube live stream
- Book a telescope experience at Jasper National Park’s Planetarium.
- Star Party from August 13-16, 2020 by North Bay Astronomy Club at The Chapmans’ observing field, Highway 11, South River, Ontario
- Perseid Meteor Shower at Lennox & Addington Dark Sky Viewing Area, 7980 County Road 41, Erinsville, Ontario @ Tuesday, August 11, 2020 at 10 PM – 4 AM
- 1.5 hour private session at Gordon’s Park, Manitoulin Island, Ontario on August 12th, 2020.
- Most other local RASC Chapters are holding online live stream events.
- You can also see the shower live at the Virtual Telescope Project via the website starting August 11, 2020.