When Is the Perseid Meteor Shower 2021 and Where Can I Watch?

Sky gazers are set to enjoy multiple weeks of shooting stars as the annual Perseid meteor shower is due to begin on Wednesday.

The Perseids occur every year roughly between the dates of July 14 and August 24, though the shower becomes most active in mid-August.

This year, the peak is set to occur around August 11 and August 12, according to the American Meteor Society.

The meteor shower happens all over the sky, so anyone who wants to see it does not have to look in a particular direction. They just need to look up when the sky is dark.

The meteor shower is also visible all around the world. However, NASA states the Perseids are best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere during the pre-dawn hours.

The Perseids are considered the best meteor shower of the year. The annual phenomenon sees up to 100 meteors zip through the Earth's atmosphere every hour, traveling at speeds of up to 37 miles per second.

This speed means the meteors experience huge amounts of heat resistance as they collide with the Earth's atmospheric particles, and burn up in bright balls of flame that streak across the sky.

The Perseids are so named because of the area of the sky in which they appear to come from—the Perseus constellation. The meteors do not actually come from the Persus constellation, however.

The shower occurs in the first place because of the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. As the comet orbits the sun, it leaves a trail of debris behind it, which the Earth passes through once a year.

As the Earth passes through this trail of debris, particles from the comet come into contact with the Earth's atmosphere at high speed, producing the meteor shower.

Swift-Tuttle is a large comet, measuring around 16 miles across. It was discovered in 1862 by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle, hence the name.

Not all of the cometary chunks are the same. Some particles of cometary material are particularly large, and these may become fireballs—larger and slower-moving flashes of light compared to an average meteor streak.

The Perseids are not the only meteor shower to occur this year. The Delta Aquariid meteor shower is due to reach its peak on or near July 27 to July 30, according to EarthSky.

The date means that the Perseids and Delta Aquariid showers are due to occur at the same time.

Later in the year, the Draconids are due to occur in early October, followed by the Orionids later that month and the Taurids and Leonids in November.

Meteor shower
A stock photo shows a meteor shower taking place over Sedona, Arizona. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through the debris trail of a comet. Diane Kulpinski/Getty