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Hey Kids, Look Up! Perseid Meteor Shower and How to View!

By Julie Dikken, Publisher of Evergreen Macaroni Kid and Laura Miller, Publisher of Macaroni Kid Appleton-Waupaca-Oshkosh, WI July 27, 2022

One of my favorite memories of growing up in Evergreen was sleeping on our deck in the summer to watch the stars. The night skies in Evergreen are spectacular, but even more so when there are shooting stars flying across the horizon. 

Well, look up, because the  Perseid meteor shower is happening right now! The Perseids can be seen every year from mid-July through mid- to late-August, but August 11-12th is the peak of the 2020 Perseids action.

Fun Facts You Should Know

If you have kids like my daughter, they'll want to know exactly what they're looking at and will have a lot of questions. Impress your kids with your vast knowledge of the universe with these five fun facts from Astronomy.Com:

  • The Perseids are caused by a giant comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which left a wide stream of debris in its wake. Earth is passing through that debris. But don't worry: they're small pieces, each about the size of a grain of sand, so they won't hurt us.
  • This week is the peak of the Perseids because we will be passing through the densest portion of the debris.
  • We see the "shooting stars" (that aren't really stars) when the tiny pieces of dirt and dust hit our atmosphere at a high speed and make a flash of light when they burn up.
  • During most nights of the Perseids you might be lucky enough to see a dozen or two meteors an hour, but during the peak nights, you can expect to see 50-70 per hour, depending on how dark it is around you!
  • It's called the Perseid meteor shower because all of the meteors look like they are coming from the constellation Perseus.

How to See the Free Show

Where do you look for these little falling balls of light? Just look up! There's not one particular direction to look, but east right before sunrise when the moon is low in the sky will give you the best luck. The really cool part is you don't need special equipment to see the show. In fact, it's easier to view it with your naked eye than through the limited lens of a telescope or binoculars. Bonus: Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn can all be seen during August. You can read more about spotting them at www.astronomy.com.

The best way to view the Perseids is when the sky is clear and dark and you're away from a lot of light, so lucky us.. all we need to do is stay up past dark! Grab a blanket (lying down gives you the widest view of the sky), jackets, and snacks, then find a safe place to watch and have a blast making memories with your kids.

Want to know more? You can find out more about the Perseid meteor shower and all kinds of other cool things about space at spaceweather.com, www.space.com, and www.astronomy.com.