Tonight the Planets and Perseids Put on a Show For Free

Celestial Navigation

Just a reminder: It’s time to head up on the roof, to the backyard, the pasture, the mountaintop — wherever you have to go to get away from city lights and watch the Perseid meteor shower. But this year, there’s the added show of a planetary conjuction right at sunset. Venus, Saturn, Mars, tiny Mercury and the crescent Moon pop out of the western twilight in tight conjunction. But then stay tuned to the sky for the Perseids. If you haven’t been out to see them yet, Thursday, August 12 and Friday August 13 should be the peak, and already some locations have been reporting 70-80 meteors an hour. No telescope is required to enjoy these two naked-eye events. See below for a sky map and tips on how to share your experience.

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Want to share the event via Twitter? Follow the hashtag #Meteorwatch and see the Meteorwatch website for all you need to know about watching the Perseids.

Meteorwatch even has a map of incoming meteors being reported on Twitter. Very cool!

There will also be live coverage on AstronomyFM

If you would like to contribute to science, the British Astronomical Society has a report form where you can submit how many meteors you are seeing.

The International Meteor Organization also has an online report form.

And Oana Sandu from the BAA has a list of tips for watching the meteor shower.

On Thursday, Aug. 12, from 3-4 p.m. EDT, astronomer Bill Cooke from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will answer questions in a live chat about the Perseids and the best ways to view it. To view and join the chat, go to this link on Aug. 12 a few minutes before 3 p.m. EDT. A chat window will be active at the bottom of the page. Log in, then Bill will start answering your questions at 3:00 EDT. And then…stay up all night with NASA! Later that night — Aug. 12 — from 11:00 p.m. to 5 a.m. EDT, Bill will take your questions via Web chat. You can also “listen” to the Perseids on that page.

And for more detailed info about this year’s Perseid Meteorshower, check out our own article by astronomer Tammy Plotner!