The Perseids are coming! The Perseids are coming! (meteor shower, a spectacular show)

Next month, on Sat 11 Aug, the peak of the Perseid meteor shower coincides with a weekend and a new moon (no moon = dark night skies). If you’ve seen a meteor shower before, you know how spectacular it is — meteorites every several seconds. If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat if you like stars or astronomy or nature’s beauty.

Perseids Info
Perseids Meteor Shower 2018
How to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower

Anyone have plans to see it? I’m taking a road trip, 400 miles out to northwest Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Near the Burning Man Playa. It’ll be very dark there and it should be a spectacular show!

Looking at the two links, I’d say unless you can identify constellations like Perseus or Cassiopeia*, the first link gives much better ‘how to watch’ guidance. Put in a location and a night, and it tells you which direction to look, and how high up in the sky, for each hour of the night. Can’t beat that with a stick.

How much does it matter to look on the peak weekend, rather than the weekend before or after? How fast does the meteorite activity tail off as you move away from peak in either direction? I’m traveling on peak weekend, and I’ll have much better opportunities for watching either the weekend before or the weekend after.

  • I can’t believe my spell-check actually had this. And this was one time I really needed the help. :slight_smile:

Looking at the map, isn’t the radiant almost exactly where the Andromeda galaxy can be seen? (I’ve only seen it once with a very clear and dark night sky and good binocs).


We went to a local star party a couple of years ago for this. There were also many amateur astronomers who had their scopes set up for general viewing. It was my first time seeing Saturn in anything but a photo. The meteor shower started off great with a really big one coming in right off the bat. Also saw the Space Station go by. :cool:

We had some good meteor sightings last year even in this light polluted wasteland. Haze is the big problem in hot weather but there’s usually a good night or two to spot some streaks. As the temperature goes down the sky gets clearer but my desire to sit outside in the middle of the night goes down.


The radiant actually moves with time – it’s not fixed in space. It’s also located (at the height of the Perseid shower) in the somewhat nebulous collection of stars that makes up Perseus’ hand (the Double Cluster), not the Andromeda Galaxy. I’ve argued in my book that the reason that Double Cluster is taken for the Hand of Perseus is because the Perseids are identified with the Eye of the Graiae* that Perseus throws into Lake Tritonis.

This star map shows the difference in location:

*In both versions of Clash of the Titans the Graiae were called the Stygian Witches.

I’ll try to remember for sure. We live in a perfect place to view them. Closest town to our house is 5 miles away, and they don’t have street lights or any large businesses, so quite dark.

We recently bought a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we’ll be there, looking up.


I saw the Perseids long ago, in the late 1990s, here in the light-polluted San Francisco Bay Area. I woke up at midnight, shook my girlfriend and son out of their slumber, and drove out to the Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve (gMap, 123 Market Street is not my address: Even there, it was pretty dark but still so close to big city lights, it was an incredible show.

This time, we’ll be way out in BFE, out in the remote northwestern Nevada high desert, where the skies should be clear and very dark. My JGC (Jeep Grand Cherokee) is set up for some overlanding, so my wife (the same girl as back then) and I will go out there. It’s 450 miles from home, to about Lat/Long 41.088700, -118.685989 (gMap We’ll spend the day putting around in the Reno area, then head to our spot that night and sleep in the JGC.

Then we’ll go back to sleep some more, and drive home on Sunday. Can’t wait!!

It is next weekend. My plans are set, for the Black Rock Desert, north-northeast of Reno. I’m bringing two cots so my wife and I can lie on them to view the entire night sky (the first time, we just layed on blankets on the ground).

Entire earth at night, a favorite image of mine:

Lower 48 — northwestern Nevada is dark:

Looking forward to a spectacular nature show, our first since last year’s solar eclipse.

Thanks for the reminder! I try to catch it every year, though most years here (DC suburbs) the sky is too hazy. I have good luck with the winter meteor showers.

Well, the peak is next weekend. Is there a dramatic drop-off between the peak and a week earlier or later? Because next weekend, travel is going to interfere with my sky-watching. Tonight (early a.m. Sunday) or two weeks from now, I can be out there. But next weekend just isn’t a good time for me.

The peak is always in the early morning, right?

But, I will be ready. Thanks for the heads-up.

Hopefully Banff National Park will be a prime viewing spot!!!

The first link shows that it’s not visible in Taiwan, so I guess not. Too bad.

We sat outside for a bit last night, and I managed to see two shooting stars. /happy

In any one location, the best viewing is normally after midnight. Between sunset and midnight, when you look up, you are looking in a direction away from the earth’s orbital motion. So you will only see meteors that are fast enough to “catch up” with the earth. Between midnight and dawn, especially half way in between, you are looking in the same direction that the earth is moving, so the earth’s motion is helping sweep up all the meteors. Sort of the same reason that you see more bug splats on the front of your car than the rear.

Hey, today’s NASA APOD (Astronomy Pic of the Day) is an animation of the Perseid meteor shower.

Here’s the animation:

And here’s the NASA APOD archive:

I would be up for a late-night viewing, except our region is smothered in a cloud of haze and smoke from the big fires in Northern CA. I think the smoke extends to northwestern Nevada as well, so choose your spot carefully.