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How to Watch This Year’s Biggest Meteor Shower

Catch the Perseids with these smart skywatching tips.

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Watch carefully, and you can see meteors—small bits of rock and metal that glow as they burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere—year-round. To get a real show, however, you’ll need to time your stargazing for one of the brief periods every year when our planet passes through the stream of debris trailing behind a comet, resulting in true celestial fireworks.

One of this year’s most spectacular showers, the Perseids, is peaking right now. Want to catch the show? Here’s what you need to know:

When

While the Perseids will technically run until about August 22, your best chance to see them will be on the night of August 11 and 12. Give yourself at least an hour to watch the sky, as shooting stars often come in clusters; you’ll also want to give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness.

Where

The darker of a spot you can find, the better: Viewers under dark skies can expect to see several shooting stars every hour, while people watching near cities may only see a few of the brightest. An International Dark Sky Park is the best place to watch, but any area away from human-made light will do.

A Big Problem: The Moon

Unlike last year, when the Perseids coincided with a crescent moon, this year’s shower is happening during a full moon. That means fewer visible meteors, as the powerful light source drowns out most dimmer parts of the spectacle. Still, careful sky-watchers should be able to make out a handful of meteors, especially the brightest fireballs.

Can’t Make It?

Fear not: The Perseids aren’t the last meteor shower of the year. Your next best shot will be the Draconids, which will light up the skies around October 8.

More: 9 Incredible Night Sky Hikes to Do This Summer

After a long day on the trail, the temptation to climb into your tent and go to sleep can be overwhelming. But fight it: Brew that cup of coffee and wait a while. If you can hold off long enough, you’ll enjoy the best show that the summer sky can offer. Read on for nine of our favorite places to peep planets, constellations, meteors, and more.


From 2022