When to look? In what direction?

Lots of questions coming in, so I thought I would deal with them here.

I live in xxx… Can I see Perseids?

Check out the map below. Unless you live in the red shaded area, you will be able to see the shower. EVERYONE in the United States and Europe with clear weather will be able to see it, provided they are away from city lights and have clear, dark skies. Most other parts of the world will be able to see the shower as well.

When do I look?

You should start to see Perseids around 10 PM local time. The rate will increase throughout the night until just before dawn (3 to 4 am), when you may be able to see as many as 80-100 per hour. Be sure to allow about 45 minutes to allow your eyes to dark adapt.

Where do I look?

Lie on your back on a sleeping bag, blanket, or lawn chair and look straight up and take in as much sky as possible. Do not look at the constellation Perseus, where is the shower radiant is located, as you will see fewer meteors. This is because the length of the meteor gets longer the farther it appears from the radiant; to see nice bright meteors, you need to look some distance away from Perseus, which for U.S. observers is off to the northeast. Looking straight up, towards the Zenith, is a good choice and enables you to take in a lot of sky.

Do not use binoculars or a telescope, as they have narrow fields of view and will greatly reduce your chances of seeing meteors.

Hope this helps and wish everyone lots of meteors!

77 thoughts on “When to look? In what direction?”

  1. How does this year’s meteor shower compare with Perseid showers during the past 10 years? Why is the meteor shower better in some years than in other years? Tks!

  2. Hi, Bill.
    I saw one ‘shooting star’ last night, and I was wondering if such meteorites / meteors that come before and after showers such as the Perseids are part of the shower, or are more likely the normal debris falling into our atmosphere on a given night?
    Chris Qualls
    Bonaire, GA
    (P.S. Glad to see the pictures from Chickamauga on the NASA page – I hope the Walker County Science Center is still going strong!)

  3. What is the size of the meteors we will be seeing tonight? golf ball, pee gravel? And how do satalites avoid being hit by them?

  4. Hi Bill,

    We were wondering what the size are the meteors we will be seeing like the size of pee gravel, or the size of a golf ball? Also we were wondering how satalites and other things in space avoid being hit by the meteors?

    Thanks, JEff, Kaleb and Trish

  5. Jersey Shore Pa. rainy and cloudy so disappointed. Got a question tho, what are the lights around the edges?
    Look forward to this show every year since I was a kid. Have seen a few really bright ones. 1 especially was just before dark, an earth grazer. what a show that was.

  6. Hi there,

    Last night after looking so hard I was sad and only saw a few shooting stars, I came home from the country and as I was on my front porch. I realized I had a pretty good view of the stars at that moment and I get chills thinking back. I heard a SWHOOOOOOOOOOOOSHH and look and see a meteor streak HUGE HUGE HUGE above my head, it left a trail of illuminating particles for about 5 seconds. How could I hear that if it was in space? I bet my life I heard it. It scared me at first it sounded so close. Was it in our atmosphere?

  7. We’re live on Clear Lake in Seabrook, TX and can’t get to the country. How can I best let my grandchildren see the meteorite showers. Do they look toward the northeast from this location?

  8. Hey Bill! We saw one around 10:00pm that was unreal!!!!! It looked like a missile coming through the air! SPECTACULAR! We are only about 30miles from KSC-would love to see that again…maybe the evening news??? 🙂

  9. hello, i am from philadelphia.. i really wish i could see them out side but i love in the city, and it was a miserable day today here so i wouldnt have any shot at seeing it.. in the live video what should i be looking for? thanks! i hope all that can see enjoy it!

  10. Hi,
    My family and I were outside gazing around 10:30 est in South Centeral Va and we saw a HUGE burst of lime green and then it trailed off quickly before we could really get a grasp on what we saw… I’ve never been an observer of a meteor shower, I always found out about them too late. I wondered if this could have been a meteor…? It was very beautiful and it was there and gone before we could communicate to each other to even “look!”.
    Thanks.

  11. At 11:40 PM EDT I saw a fireball straight overhead that went through several constellations, traveling from the NE toward the SW, roughly parallel with the Milky Way, leaving a glowing trail behind it that faded out within three seconds. Just wondering if anyone else saw it?
    Chris Qualls
    Bonaire/Warner Robins, GA

  12. I saw one shooting star right before 10pm. Havent seen anoter one sice. The sky here is light. 🙁

  13. Thank you and it would have been nice if people would have gone by the honor system. I appreciate the website and say thank you.

  14. Saw a reference to the Walker County Science Center in an earlier post tonight. Things at our facility are going Very Well, with an all-sky camera and lunar observatory now on site…and a spectacular planetarium scheduled to open in late 2010 or early 2011! Wayne Robinson, Ph.D., Coordinator of Science and Technology, Walker County Schools (www.walkerschools.org)

  15. ok we’re looking here in Cleveland and only saw one so far. Anyone else see anything? Thanks!

  16. Does time zones play a part of when is the best time to see the meteor event? Example, I live in Arizona right now we are PDT.

  17. Wow, the early show tonight started for me at 9:42 EDST, w/ my 6 yr old son….impatient, I said wait 5 mibnutes, and the first one of the night was a beuty, super bright grazer, N to S across the full sky, – the first 2 hours I have seen 10- mostly N-S tragectory- however, a sneaky yellow red amber embered slow moving streaker came in from the south and it was Great! North Central Ohio – from 2245 EDST to Midnight has been very slow- but on Q at 0000 anopther beautiful streaker maybe a grazer, very bright N to S! This is great!

  18. Thank you Bill to share your knowledge with us. My family and I are on the beach at Playa del Carmen Riv. Maya in Mexico. We’ve seen few small metheors but a big and large one. Does it looks large due the cosmo powder or the thinks it is is staying on it’s way? Or how comes that we can see kind of a big line begiing with a star? This is amazing. 😉

  19. Questions: Just wondering what direction to look? I live in Phoenix, AZ. Will it be everywhere? Could some of these land on earth? How big are they? Are we passing through a debris trail? How fast is everything going? It’s all very interesting stuff. We’re fascinated and very curious. 🙂

  20. I live in southeast Missouri and would like to know when I will be able to see the meteor shower.

  21. Thanks for the great info. We’re headed out to the country right now to lay under the stars and watch the skies!!, (with our dogs! lol).

  22. Wow just saw three different meteors. (1045-1100 AZ.) They were all going different directions.(E to W, SW to NE, NW to SE) It looked like they were going incredibly fast. Very cool.

  23. Im in Galesburg IL and when we were looking towards the NE skies there was a bright object We thought was one of the planets we are supposed to be able to view..Well it was blinking red and green and sometimes white. It looked like it was hovering and then it would make fast rapid movements to the left or right..sometimes diagonal and then it would circle very fast. Do you have any idea what this was?

  24. I live in Australia and the time now is 4.50 in the afternoon. Can I still see the shower even though it’s already happening on the other side of earth?

  25. I live in Michigan and we just had a pretty good view of the Perseids. It was like someone was throwing a ball of light across the sky. My 11 year old son was so happy to see it and me too.

  26. Hi. I’m in Monterey Park Ca. I’ve only seen 7 meteors so far. I’ve been out since 11:00 pm. Hope to see more. Got the telescope out to.

  27. Hi Bill. Thanks for the tip about NOT looking right at Perseus. I never even thought of that. Saw a few here in Ontario, Canada, but not many since I’m stuck in the city.

    I was wondering, how much longer will we be able to see them? I know the “peak” is tonight, but Friday and Saturday I might actually be able to get away from these infernal lights. Will it be worth my while to take a trip to the country?

  28. you are very lucky to have heard that meteor.. you can sometimes hear meteors because they produce electromagnetic waves with frequencies in the range of human hearing. believe it or not, grasses can act as natural transducers, turning the low-frequency EM waves to sound waves!

  29. Hi Bill,

    I live in Poprad,Slovakia.My friends and I were outside and observer night sky with astronomer telescope.My friends have never been an observer of a meteor.They´re surprised from it.The weather was very great,not cloudly.We observered moreover Pereseids Jupiter and some deep sky objects.At 11:45 p.m. we saw the first meteor and round midnight we saw more meteors.

  30. Boo! We were told to go view at midnight so my daughter and I hung out for quite a while. While we admired the nice weather and the beautiful stars, we didn’t see anything. Will there be anything tonight? (Friday) Thanks.

  31. San Diego, CA area, a few minutes past 0100 – observed one streak that appeared to explode about midpoint and then the trail stayed illuminated for about 20 seconds. Did it collide with a satellite?

  32. Hey everybody. My last comment seems to have disappeared??? Hmmm…Anyway, My question was, how much longer will the Perseids be visible? I would like to try to go out tonight or Sunday to see them.

  33. Ok, while I’m here, since no one seems to be paying attention, I will answer a few questions.

    Hannah, the reason you were able to hear the meteor is that it was not in space at the time. When you see the meteors it means that they have entered our atmoshpere and are burning up. Lucky you! Most people never get to see one that big!

    Jeanie in Seabrook, TX, the best thing to do is just to lie on your back and look straight up. After you see the first one, you will know which direction is best. If you can’t get out of the city, try to get as far away from other light sources as you can. And remember to leave time for your eyes to adjust.

    And Jess in Australia, you can see the meteor shower starting at 10pm your local time, just like everyone else. It doesn’t just happen on one side of the world.

  34. If you missed them on Aug 12-13 (Thursday night/Friday morning) any chance of seeing stragglers on Aug 13-14?

  35. We watched the event from Big basin way in California and watched around 35+ meteors between 9 pm – 12:30 am five of which were big and one the prettiest I have ever seen leaving a trail of more than 3 seconds.

    Do we have a luck watching some movement on this today? I had be happy.

  36. Can we see some of this event on friday night too? If yes, what would be the window of opportunity look like and what direction we see in the sky? This would be from San Jose, California.

  37. We have been watching the perseid shower with my son for half an hour. We noticed a bright white light when we look towards south. We wonder what this is.
    We are in Ankara, Turkey by the way. Google says our position is 39°51`45N-32°39`09E.
    Cheers
    Burak

  38. Other than my query about the large ball of fire like explosion in the northeastern sky between 11pm and midnight the 12th, can you clarify the difference between a meteor and a comet for me?
    Thanks,
    Kittery Point, Me.

  39. I recently learned about solar flares and I was very interested and wanted to learn more so I researched them. I learned that they were the North and Southern lights. Which I didn’t know and was fascinated by that. Someone told me recently to that We had a strong solar flare that you could see it from Mexico and I was wondering why did we have such a strong solar flare. Please answere my question.

  40. I took my fiancée out tonight for her first time stargazing and introduced the Persied’s Meteor Shower to her. I have been watching them for over 20 years now. Tonight we were out on the Kansas Prairie about 11:15 PM (Friday night) and the show was still pretty good since the moon was below the horizon. It is also amazing to witness the Milky Way as it is also very, very bright away from city lights here. Thanks again for the viewing info.

  41. Hi
    I live in the north of Ireland near Malin Head. Last night (friday 13th) the sky cleared for an hour and i saw 1 in the west. Will i be able to see the showers tonight or any other night this week weather permitting

  42. Hi Bill,

    On Friday night we saw 6 total less than an hour in various areas of the show to the north/northeast. It was a nice break between two cloud areas that night. It was great! We live in Southside Virginia area.

  43. I was wondering if this meteor shower was still taking place. I saw a meteor or something falling/shooting across the sky while I was driving last night (around 10:20 pm PST) in Southern California. I have been lightly searching the internet today and have not found any reports stating that this meteor or any meteor shower is currently active. Any thoughts?

  44. I am from the islands of AÇORES-PORTUGAL and I and some of my friends have just seen 5 red lights in the sky and the last of them was very strange. Very fast moving lights and the last one was very wide and fast. The first two were very close together. Is there some mission ocorring?? please respond

    Rodolfo Tavares

  45. i saw something like a falling star the last week of july 2010 then again in sept 2010 i’m xx years old and this was the first time i’ve seen not only one but two. has anyone else seen this or could you tell me what it is…..

  46. Thanks NASA for a wonderful and concise guide. Brilliant – I still remember the Apollo programme with much affection, it really defined my teenage years.

    When are we going to Mars or further. It is very necessary as most seem bent on destroying our own planet!

    Have a wonderful shower and eclipse as well. What a prelude to Christmas.

    David

  47. are you a person that knows a lot about the moon because i was wondering which state would be able to see the lunar eclipse more easily.

  48. I have a question?Is this the same meteor shower that was seing by mayans indians some time ago?If so the next thing that is posible is that all planets will line up in perfect line up.

    Also I have theory about a machine that can absorbe atoms and use it as as fuel to create a light year speed effect.could that be posible.just a (theory)I like to think crazy ideas.

  49. what if someone lived in suthern canada would they be able to still see hte meteor shower? because i live in toronto and there are a lot of lights on at my neighbours house.

  50. i live in El Paso, Texas and would like to know when is the best time to see the showers in our mountain time zone?

  51. I live near the Palm Springs area in California. I have a chance right? I’ve tried watching lunar eclipses but that goes horrible. Will I have a chance to see it?

  52. Hello every one and any I live in Victorville what would be a good spot to see I’m new here so not sure,,,,,THANKS

  53. My security camera recorded a meteor early this morning, 0050 hrs Thurs 8-18-11. Is it of any use to the scientific community?

  54. I think this post is not only informative but also interesting. I can very well guess that you have very good technique of posting article.

  55. Hello.
    I just saw my nineth meteor.
    This is cool.
    Looking forward to seeing more have a good day!

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