The Perseid Shower Promises a Cosmic Light Show for Seattle in 2021
It’s not too late to grab a front-row seat to this dazzling display of meteors seen this year.
The Earth passes through the debris path of the Swift-Tuttle comet each summer. This debris path is made up of bits of rock and ice from the comet as they move in their orbit around the sun.
When the debris hits the earth’s atmosphere, it burns up, causing a light show in the night sky.
This particular shower is called the Perseids and is occurring from July 17 to Aug. 24. It is expected to peak from August 11 to 13th, when Earth passes through the densest, dustiest area of the debris.
Don’t miss the chance to view the meteors in the days before and after the peak. This magnificent display is different every year and it also depends on where you’re located. Some of the best displays can occur outside of the expected peak.
If you have a clear night sky and the time to go outside, take a chance and see if the universe will shower you in gold.
The meteor shower is named after Perseus, who is the son of the Greek god Zeus and the mortal Danaë. The story goes like this. When Zeus visited Danaë, the mother of Perseus, he came to her in a shower of gold.
A Waxing Moon Brings Darker Skies
The moon will set early in the evening this year, which is a lucky break. Darker skies give you the best chance for a specular show.
You will have a better view in the Northern Hemisphere and down to the mid-southern latitudes. Expect to see up to 60 meteors per hour at the shower’s peak.
Seattle is a perfect location to be for this show. Grab your family and go to the wide-open skies at the seashore.
Find the darkest location you can and get comfortable. It might be a bit of a wait so make yourself comfortable. Try to time your viewing from late night until dawn.
This meteor shower has always been a family favorite for tons of reasons.
- It’s in the summer, so there’s time for the entire family to stay up late to watch the show. It’s best not to rush as your eyes need time to adjust to the dark. Meteors come in bunches so be patient.
- It’s easy to catch a glimpse of the meteors, so even the smallest child will be able to enjoy the show.
- You don’t need any special equipment for viewing them.
- A wide-open sky is best for viewing so we either go to the beach or visit a friend's farm and camp out in a field. That’s usually the most fun as we also get to enjoy a visit with friends.
- You might be lucky enough to see an Earthgrazer. That’s a long, slow meteor that travels horizontally across the evening sky. They’re pretty rare and usually appear before midnight, when the radiant point of the shower is close to the horizon.
I’m planning to gather a few friends and sit outside with a warm blanket and some mosquito repellant this year. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with our friends and family in a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t forget the reclining lawn chairs for the most comfortable seats.
We plan to study this cosmic light show as we visit. With all the wildfires here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re hoping for clear skies to get the best view.
“If you trace all the Perseid meteors backward, they all seem to come from the constellation Perseus, near the famous Double Cluster. Hence, the meteor shower is named in honor of the constellation Perseus the Hero.” Earthsky
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