Perseid Meteor Shower 2019: Apps to Help You Watch One of the Best Cosmic Firework Shows of the Year

The Perseid meteor shower is one of the most spectacular sights in the northern hemisphere sky, occurring during July and August every year.

If you are interested in watching the shower this year, then there are several applications available which may come in handy:

Scope Nights Astronomy Weather

Scope nights provides detailed weather forecasts for stargazing around the world, using a combination of national and global data to help you find clear skies. It also uses information from NASA to help you find skies which are also dark and unaffected by light pollution.

It is available on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch for $4.99

Sky Guide

Sky Guide is an augmented reality application which allows you to spot and identify celestial objects in the sky with the help of your camera. As well as stars, galaxies and satellites, the app can help you to find the point in the sky where the most meteors are appearing during the Perseids. It even has a fast-forward feature so you can see what the sky will be like at a later time.

This app is only available on iOS devices for a price of $2.99.

Perseid meteor shower
View of a meteor streaking over Trona Pinnacles near Death Valley, CA, during the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, August 2, 2019. Bob Riha Jr., Getty Images


With SkySafari you will be able to view the orbit of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle in 3D and find out where the Perseid meteors are appearing, much like Sky Guide. But if you opt for the SkySafari 6 Plus or Pro versions, you will also have the option to control a telescope and direct it towards any point or object in the sky. The app can connect to any Go-To telescope with a standard USB or RS-232 serial interface using a small device known as SkyFi.

This year the Perseid meteor shower became active on July 17 and it will be visible until August 24, although meteor rates will peak on August 12 or 13.

With ideal viewing conditions, you will usually be able to see between 50 and 75 meteors every hour during peak times. But unfortunately, a particularly bright moon will make many of the meteors difficult to see on the 12 and 13, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS.)

Meteor showers are celestial events in which several meteors can be seen in the night sky appearing to originate from a single point. This happens when the Earth passes through streams of cosmic debris.

In the case of the Perseids, this debris is released from the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle as speeds path Earth in its orbit of the sun.

"They are called Perseids since the radiant—the area of the sky where the meteors seem to originate—is located near the prominent constellation of Perseus the hero when at maximum activity," a statement from the AMS read.

Meteors, colloquially known as "shooting stars," are the streaks of light that we see when small pieces of debris from comets or asteroids enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up at high speed. Before these small pieces enter the atmosphere, they are known as "meteoroids," according to the Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

Most of the time meteoroids burn up before they reach the ground, but if one manages to reach the planet's surface it is known as a meteorite.