Looking to catch the breathtaking Perseid meteor shower this year? Here's how you can do so safely and in style!
The Perseid meteor shower is arguably the most popular meteor shower of the year according to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke. With nearly 80-200 meteors dashing across your sky per hour, it's well worth it to take a peek outside and catch the show for yourself.
Though the shower officially started on July 17th and runs through August 27th, the shower's peak is around 1:00 a.m. EDT on Saturday, August 12th, 2017. You can also get top-notch visibility on the nights of the 11th and the 13th.
The downside about the Perseid shower this year?
In 2017, the Perseids will be a little more difficult to see due to the presence of the moon, which will be three-quarters full and will rise shortly before the shower and hits its peak around midnight local time. "Rates will be about half what they would be normally, because of the bright moonlight," Cooke told Space.com. "Instead of 80 to 100, [there will be] 40 to 50 per hour. And that's just because the moon's going to wash out the fainter ones." (Space.com)
But never fear: iMore's here to help you out with all your meteor shower needs! Here's everything you need to know about watching the Perseid meteor shower.
One thing that you can do to get you prepared for the Perseid shower this year is download an Astronomy app or two to keep you in the loop.
Our favorite apps include Star Walk 2, Sky Guide, and Night Sky. All of which are fantastic stargazing apps that use augmented reality to help you identify objects in the sky, whether it's day or night.
Sky Guide, for example, is tailored a bit more towards the Perseid meteor shower in particular. It can help you find the point where the most meteors will appear and even give you the option to fast-forward to see what the sky will look like at different points throughout the evening!
If I were only going to pay for one app, I would get Sky Guide. The interface here was simple, and easier to use than all the others. The two aspects of Sky Guide that I like the most are the fast-forward function and the search feature... The search feature in the app also works really well. If you want to find the point from which the Perseid meteors will radiate, simply search for Perseids and an arrow will pop up directing you toward the location. (Emily Calandrelli, Tech Crunch)
Best places to go to watch the shower/how to prepare
This year we have a new one — reports are circulating that this year's Perseids will be the "brightest shower in recorded human history," lighting up the night sky and even having some meteors visible during the day. We wish this were true… but no such thing is going to happen. (Bill Cooke, NASA)
The key thing to keep in mind when you're looking for a spot to catch the meteor shower is the more open space, the better, but with the moon being so bright this year, things might be a wee bit trickier. Though there were expected to be more meteors than usual this year, the excess light is bound to drown out some of the awe that the meteors produce.
When picking out your perfect spot, here are a few things to keep in mind:
The darker the area, the better! Head out to the countryside and head away from bright lighting. It takes around 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, so show up a little bit earlier.
Prepare to sit outside for a while and bring some blankets, some snacks, some good pals, a bottle of wine, and relax. Don't forget your bug spray and a couple of extra bottles of water!
Bring your camera to capture the beautiful meteors (but don't waste your time looking through the viewfinder the entire evening!)
If you wanted, you could even turn your meteor shower-viewing experience into a camping trip! Just set up a tent in an open area (preferably on a hill or in an open field), grab your binoculars, and start viewing!
Midnight snacks to bring for the ride
If you're someone who wants to make a big show out of the meteor shower, then why not indulge and bring along some serious midnight snackage?!
You can pack a couple of bags of chips and some chocolate bars if you want to keep is cool and casual, or if you wanted to turn your Perseid shower experience into a high-class affair, then why not whip up a Charcuterie Board to eat on the hill as you and your sweetheart watch meteors zip by overheard?
How to capture the shower on your iPhone
Seeing the meteor shower with your eyes and binoculars is cool and everything, but what about capturing the big event on your iPhone?! Shooting the Perseid shower on your iPhone isn't as hard as you think it is; you just need the right tools to do so.
Using an external lens is a great way to capture the full spectrum of the meteor shower because it can (like a DSLR lens) change the size and shape of the subject you're capturing and its prominence in your photo. Using a wide-angle lens or a fish-eye lens will give you the biggest area of space to play and shoot with, so you'll be capturing the most meteors with an external lens like this.
You can also grab an accessory like the GripTight ONE GP Stand and set up your iPhone to capture a time-lapse of the meteors over an extended period of time (be sure to have an external battery pack so you don't run out of juice in the middle of filming).
The best advice we can give? Don't spend the whole shower trying to capture a decent picture — put down your iPhone at some point, throw your head back, and enjoy the show above you without looking through a screen.
How to be safe in the middle of the night
Depending on where you live, watching the Perseid meteor shower can potentially be a bit dangerous, so the most important thing to remember is safety first!
If you're walking alone in the middle of the night, it might be best to download an app like Circle of 6, which lets you choose six of your friends and family members you can notify if something is wrong. You can connect the app to your phone to track your current location and send a message to all six in your circle to either call, text, or come get you without you needing to do anything more than open the app and tap a button.
When you're looking for the perfect spot, be sure to scout out the area during the day so you're more familiar with the surroundings/how everything looks: if you blindly pick a spot in the middle of the night and go out there without any info, then you might run into a tricky, unsafe situation.
Be sure to use a flashlight when you're going out to your Perseid viewing spot (or use the flashlight on your iPhone!) and don't forget to bring a backup battery if you know you'll be recording video and snapping a lot of photos — the last thing you want is to be left alone in the dark with a dead battery.
How do you enjoy your meteor showers?
Is there a special spot you and your family go to for watching a meteor shower? Are you someone who's discovered (or designed!) the perfect app for tracking and capturing the Perseid shower?
Let us know your tips and tricks for watching the Perseid meteor shower in style in the comments below (and we'll see you at the next shower!)