How to See the Perseid Meteor Shower Despite the Supermoon
The peak of this year's Perseid meteor shower may be outshined by the last supermoon of the year -- the Sturgeon Moon -- when both take center stage Thursday night.
To avoid moonshine, The Old Farmer's Almanac says observers should look for the meteors a few hours after midnight when the Moon is lower in the sky or in the dark hours before dawn when the Moon is setting.
Folks can also look for the Perseids through about Aug. 22 as the Moon is waning.
The Perseids are considered the best meteor shower of the year, with 50 to 100 meteors every hour during the shower's peak.
"Even if the viewing conditions aren't the best, you're likely to spot some meteors," The Old Farmer's Almanac says.
More Viewing Tips for Shooting Stars
- Get away from light pollution! You’ll want to avoid city lights. Any hill out in the countryside works. Mountaintops are also great viewing locations because they are usually at a high enough altitude to reduce haze from air and light pollution. Plan a drive or a camping trip!
- Gaze at whatever part of the sky is darkest at your location. Though it might be tempting, avoid using binoculars or a telescope. It is better to look at the whole sky than a tiny part of it, and your eyes will automatically move toward any motion up above. Avoid looking at your cell phone or other lights during the meteor shower, as this will damage your night vision.
- While the shower is best when moonlight is absent, you can still watch for shooting stars if the Moon’s around. Just try to face away from the Moon when looking for meteors. Its light pollution will affect the whole sky, but it will be worse closer to the Moon.
- You’ll need about 20 minutes for your eyes to adapt to the darker skies, so get out earlier and be patient.
- Being comfortable is important. To avoid a stiff neck, bring a chaise lounge or reclining lawn chair. A sleeping bag on the ground works too. Find a slight incline so that your head will be higher than your feet. Bring an extra layer of clothes if you’re worried about being cold; when you are sitting or lying outside at night, your body heat radiates directly into the sky.
- Unfortunately, cloud cover can prevent you from seeing the shower. Before you travel anywhere, check the short-range forecast to see whether it’ll be a stormy evening or clear skies.