The best time to view this summer’s Perseid Meteor shower is very, very early Sunday morning. This year the shower will peak around the night of Aug. 12 and before dawn on Aug.13, 2023, according to skywatchers. This year the view should be particularly good since the moon will only be 10% illuminated, according to Space.com.
The Perseid Meteor Shower is a spectacular event caused by the Earth’s passage through debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle. As these minuscule fragments, some no larger than a grain of sand, collide with our atmosphere at speeds of over 37 miles per second, they create bright streaks of light known as meteors or “shooting stars.” Named after the constellation Perseus, from which they appear to radiate, this meteor shower has been captivating skywatchers for centuries.
The Perseids are active from July 14 to September 1. They reach a strong maximum on August 12 or 13, depending on the year. Normal rates seen from rural locations range from 50-75 shower members per hour at maximum. They are called Perseids since the radiant (the area of the sky where the meteors seem to originate) is located near the prominent constellation of Perseus the hero when at maximum activity, according to the American Meteor Society.
The Perseids are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours, though at times it is possible to view meteors from this shower as early as 10 p.m., according to NASA. No special equipment is needed to view the Perseids, but you do need to go to the darkest possible location, which may be challenging in LA. Experts recommend finding a spot where you can take in as much sky as possible and allow about 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark.
If you can’t find a spot, or you don’t want to get up super early, you can watch it on a free telescope livestream courtesy of The Virtual Telescope Project 2.0. The online, free session to see the Perseid 2023 meteor shower is scheduled for 13 Aug. 2023, starting at 01:30 UT, around the peak of activity which is this evening at 6:30 p.m.