It’s the time of year when your friends and family who are just a bit more nerdy or maybe outdoors-inclined all start dropping a weird, rarely heard word: Perseids.
Every August, the Perseid meteor shower – one of the most reliable and spectacular meteor showers – peaks, painting the skies with dozens of shooting stars streaking over us each hour.
There’s now plenty of people out there telling you how simple it is to check out the show for yourself: just head outside, lie back, let your eyes adjust and watch.
Of course, this requires that the skies are clear, you’re far from ubiquitous light pollution and have a comfortable spot to lie on the ground. For many urbanites, it can actually be quite a production, and for plenty of others it’s just so much easier to stay in and binge Netflix.
For those of you that are really more meteor shower-curious, there are a few ways to see the best the Perseid meteor shower has to offer without even leaving your couch.
This year’s Perseids are set to peak Monday night and the dedicated Italian astronomer Gian Masi at the Virtual Telescope Project will be livestreaming the spectacle from Rome. Before the sun has even set in New York, you can watch meteors burning up over Europe via the YouTube feed below:
To watch for Perseids the way many astronomers do, you can monitor all 20 viewpoints of NASA’s All-Sky Fireball Network, spread across 17 locations around the United States. You can get live views from the network here. It’s just the same as lying on your back outside, with the added benefit of fitting the entire night sky in your view.
If you’re busy Monday night and you just can’t be bothered to go looking for little bits of space dust burning up over your head, the Perseids can be time-shifted like anything else today.
Professional photographers are already posting their best shooting star shots on Flickr, Twitter and Instagram.
There will be plenty more where that came from (and elsewhere) over the next few days.
Perhaps the best view I’ve ever seen of a meteor shower did not coming lying on my back, but on my laptop via the below view from a cockpit. This is a time-lapse of the 2018 Perseids:
So if you miss the show this week, or you just can’t be bothered to go outside Monday, there’s no reason for FOMO.
But do keep in mind that while the Perseids peak Monday, they will actually continue on for a few more weeks at slightly lower rates of frequency.
So if you do find yourself outside at night below a clear night sky, it might be worth taking a little time to just look up.