It’s been a month since we hauled our families out into the night to watch fireworks light up the sky. The summer’s own natural celestial fireworks – the Perseid meteor shower – starts this weekend. They run through next week, when they hit peak performance from Tuesday to Thursday August 11-13.
Luckily for your budding astronomers, this year the new moon doesn’t occur until August 14th, which means conditions for viewing the meteor shower will be near perfect.
For the kids: What is a meteor shower?
The Perseids appear to rain from the constellation Perseus, which rises in the northeast around 11 pm in August. While knowledge of the map of constellations isn’t required to locate the shower (clearly you’ll know a meteor when you see it with your eyeballs), it can certainly be helpful in setting up a prime viewing location. The Starwalk kids app is fantastic for figuring out exactly what is going on in the night sky.
Pack the essentials: comfortable chairs, blankets, bug spray, and snacks. Head to a location free from artificial light, keeping in mind that it takes about 20-30 minutes for your eyes to properly adjust to darkness. If you can make out all the stars in the little dipper, both you and the sky are in good shape.
Watching and waiting on the night sky is obviously an exercise in patience, which can be in short supply for kids and parents (especially so late at night). But judging by the looks on the faces of my kids and their friend as they spotted a meteor streak by at the drive-in, all it takes is one to get them hooked.
Pump yourself up for the ultimate evening of stargazing with this mind blowing video: 7 years of meteor showers condensed to two minutes. Woah.