Seattle area scores clear skies for viewing Perseid Meteor Shower

Aug 10, 2021, 9:32 AM | Updated: 11:36 am
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Perseid Meteor Shower is well underway, but experts like NASA say the peak viewing time begins the night of Aug. 11.

August heat wave could break records in Seattle area

Coincidentally, the National Weather Service in Seattle has issued an excessive heat watch beginning on Wednesday, which can only mean that we all have a perfect excuse to sleep out under the stars in hopes of seeing a Perseid.

According to NASA’s Watch the Skies blog, the skies will be the darkest between midnight and dawn on Thursday. If you miss it, try again late Thursday evening into Friday morning. Because of the moon’s schedule in 2022 and 2023, this year’s Perseids may be the best for a few years, NASA says.

The key will be to find somewhere away from light pollution where it’s estimated you could spot more than 40 Perseids an hour. Sky watchers close to city lights may only see a few every hour. If you’re downtown, don’t expect to see anything.

Experts recommend giving your eyes about 30 minutes to adjust to the dark, which also means not looking at your phone. Watch for short streaks of light and don’t worry about looking in any specific area.

What is the Perseid Meteor Shower?

The Perseid Meteor Shower is caused by the dust and debris trailing the Swift-Tuttle comet, which orbits the sun approximately every 133 years. The comet is the largest object known to repeatedly careen by Earth, with a nucleus of 16 miles wide. Since the Earth passes through that trail of comet detritus every year, we get a pretty little show.

The meteors strike our atmosphere at around 134,000 miles per hour and create vivid streaks of light when they burn up. When one makes it all the way down to the ground without burning up, they become known as “meteorites.”

If you can’t see the Perseids, you can join NASA’s watch party on social media on Aug. 11-12 (10 p.m. – 5 a.m. CDT; 3–10 a.m. UTC) on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

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Seattle area scores clear skies for viewing Perseid Meteor Shower