Perseids 2022: when and how to see this shower of stars

The Milky Way seen on one of the nights of activity of the Perseids, in 2018. / ef

Science | Astronomy

The coincidence of the phenomenon with the full moon will make it difficult to see the meteors

Elena Martin Lopez

Perhaps the magic that surrounds the shooting stars, both because of their attractiveness and because of the superstition of being able to ask them for wishes, is what leads us every year at this time to look at the sky, expectant to see the Perseids. This shower of stars, popularly baptized as 'Tears of San Lorenzo', will have its maximum activity in the early morning of August 13, around three in the morning, so we have asked the experts of this science for advice to know what is the best way to see them.

This 2022, "sadly, the peak of the Perseids will see the worst possible circumstances for observers," said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, who heads the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. NASA, in Huntsville (United States). The problem is that the phenomenon coincides with the full moon phase that will take place on the night of August 12, so the light of the full moon will reduce the visibility of the event. If in ideal conditions "it is usual to see up to 100 shooting stars an hour, this year the full moon will prevent us from seeing the faintest meteors, which are the majority, and will only allow us to observe the brightest, that is, around a shooting star every 15 minutes”, says Irene Puerto, an astrophysicist at the Communication and Scientific Culture Unit of the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC).

The good news is that "the following Friday, August 19, the faintest Perseids will be seen before two in the morning on the peninsula, when the waning moon rises," adds Puerto. This is because this celestial phenomenon, despite experiencing its peak in the middle of the month, lasts until the end of August.

How and where to see them

The Perseids can be seen from all over the Northern Hemisphere during the summer. "It is best to find a place as far away as possible from urban centers, to avoid light pollution that reduces the visibility of shooting stars, and that offers few obstacles to the view (such as buildings, trees or mountains)," says the specialist. . There is no specific point to look at, but they do advise looking in the opposite direction of the moon and, ideally, "take a mat to lie on the ground face up, as it is the way in which we can cover more portion of the sky naked eye".

The different types of optical material, such as binoculars or telescopes, are not recommended in this case, because they limit the field of vision. Even so, Puerto suggests taking them with you because, even if it is not to see the Perseids, you can take advantage of the event to also observe the craters of the full moon.

"In ideal conditions you can see up to 100 shooting stars per hour, this year you will see one every fifteen minutes"

Irene Puerto

IAC Astrophysics

From perspective, the Perseids seem to come from the constellation Perseus, hence their name, however, where they really come from is the trail of dust left by comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle as it approaches the sun, something that happens every 133 years, approximately. Comets are made of rock and ice, so when they approach a star's heat on their path, some of its ice "melts," leaving behind thousands of dust particles the size of a grain of sand that float around. for years in space.

These “shooting stars” are,

actually comet fragments

109P/Swift-Tuttle.

We see them every summer when Earth's orbit coincides with the comet's path.

It is the date of the record

old that you have of the

perseid activity.

Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle

discovered in

1862 by Lewis

Swift and Horace

Tuttle.

It is the diameter.

Twice as big as the one it caused

the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

meteoroids

rock particles and

metal being

detach from

passing kite

close to the sun

It takes the comet to orbit the Sun.

The last time the comet was visible

from Earth was in 1992 and not

will pass through our planet again

until 2125.

SOURCE: Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC).

These “shooting stars” are,

actually comet fragments

109P/Swift-Tuttle.

We see them every summer when the orbit

of the Earth coincides with the trajectory

of the comet.

It is the date of the record

old that you have of the

perseid activity.

Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle

Discovered in 1862 by

Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle.

meteoroids

rock and metal particles

that emerge from

kite passing by

of the sun.

the comet takes

in orbiting the Sun.

It is the diameter.

twice as big

than the one that caused

the disappearance of

the dinosaurs.

The last time the comet was visible from Earth was in 1992 and it will not pass close to our planet again until 2125.

SOURCE: Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC).

The translational movement of the Earth leads our planet to pass through this cloud of dust annually at this time, which is why we can observe the Perseids every year. When it happens, those particles from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle pass through the atmosphere at a speed of thousands of kilometers per hour, causing them to disintegrate and create bright flashes for a fraction of a second, the so-called shooting stars, which are actually meteors.

The Perseids is one of the most famous meteor showers because, coinciding with summer, the temperature and leisure time encourage people to go out and observe the sky at night. However, many others occur throughout the year. In January, for example, the quadrantids can be seen, which are attributed to asteroid 2003 EH1; in April, the Lyrids, daughters of Comet Thatcher; and in December the Geminids, generated by the asteroid (3200) Phaethon, among others. «The largest meteor shower in history was one of the Leonids, on November 17, 1986, with 100,000 meteors per hour and, in general, this meteor shower is usually more spectacular than the Perseids, but when it occurs in November there are more chances that it will be cloudy and difficult to see," explains Puerto.

As the full moon fades, the Perseids will begin to wane on August 21 and 22 and will cease completely on September 1, NASA has announced. For those who prefer to watch them from home, the IAC will broadcast the event live from the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory, in La Palma, and from the Madeira Islands, through the sky-live.tv channel.

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