Where to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower 2021 Peak, in Person and Online

The Perseid meteor shower is due to reach its peak period of activity this week in one of the most anticipated skywatching events of the year.

The Perseids usually start streaking across the sky from around mid-July, but the best time to spot them is at their peak when it is possible to see dozens per hour.

This year, the best nights to watch the Perseids will be on August 11 and August 12. But there is more to spotting the meteors than just walking outside and looking up—though this might work for some!

The Perseids are best seen in the Northern Hemisphere, and far away from light pollution, according to NASA's Watch the Skies blog.

Meteor showers are dimmed significantly by light pollution, and bright skies can turn a spectacle like the Perseids into nothing more than a normal night.

Bill Cooke, of NASAs Meteoroid Environments Office, writes in the blog it is often said that people may be able to catch up to 100 Perseids per hour, but this is usually a significant overestimation. The actual number seen for most people in the U.S. will likely be around 40 per hour just before dawn at the peak.

This is assuming they are far away from light pollution and in the countryside. Those who live in suburbs can expect to see lower numbers of between eight and 10 per hour.

And unfortunately for those who live in cities, the rate is expected to drop to as little as two Perseids per hour due to light pollution, according to Cooke.

So the Perseids can be seen all over the U.S. and Northern Hemisphere this week—but heading out of populated areas and looking up in the early morning pre-light will offer the best chance of seeing them.

For those who cannot do so or who live in the Southern Hemisphere, the shower will also be shown live via the Italy-based Virtual Telescope Project.

The online observation can be watched on the Project's WebTV portal on its website, as well as on YouTube, as seen below.

The livestream will start on August 12 at 12:00 a.m. UTC (8 p.m. EDT, August 11).

The Perseid meteor shower occurs when the Earth passes through the trail left behind by the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which is around 16 miles across.

The comet leaves chunks of space debris in its wake, and these bits of debris burn up brightly in Earth's atmosphere as our planet passes behind it.

Perseids meteor shower
A meteorite streaks over Trona Pinnacles near Death Valley, California, during the annual Perseid Meteor Showers, on August 2, 2019. In areas of low light pollution the Perseid shower can produce dozens of meteors an hour at its peak. Getty Images