Watching the Perseids Meteor Shower 2020: Astronomer says when and where to look

Jackie Faherty, an Astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, gives Yahoo Life advice for watching the 2020 Perseids meteor shower on August 11th & 12th. First, find a dark open sky. “You want to have a huge swath of the sky that you can look at,” she says. She recommends finding an a field or a beach where there’s very little light pollution. Next she says, be aware of where the moon is. “The moon is like a lightbulb in the sky, and depending on its stage it can outshine the whole sky.” Lucky for us, the moon is in a later stage, so heading out when the sky is dark after sunset is best. Finally, be patient. “You need to be out there, I would say for a minimum of two hours,” Faherty says. “You need at least 15 minutes for your eyes to adjust and then you have to give nature a chance to inspire you.”

Video Transcript

JACKIE FAHERTY: My name is Jackie Faherty, and I'm an astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. A meteor shower is essentially what's leftover from the tail of a comet or an asteroid. We get all these teeny tiny pieces-- some as small as a grain of sand, some a little bit larger-- that burn up in the atmosphere of the earth and put on a gorgeous show for us.

We get the same ones every year. The earth is going around the sun. The comments and the asteroids are also doing the same thing. They're just going around the sun in the same path. The show-stopper meteor shower of the year is always the Perseids between August 11 to 12. And this is usually a gorgeous event. It's got one of these feels of excitement to it.

I have personally watched the Perseids almost every year. I have seen some fireballs that have literally shook me to my core. They are so daunting and exciting. And while any meteor shower can bring that to you, the Perseids comes at a high rate. And it's the summer, and so you can get outside and get these views of just a fantastic light show.

Oh, the best part about meteor showers is that no telescope, binoculars, nothing necessary. All you need is patience and your eyeballs. That's it.