Watching the Skies: Get the best possible view of the Perseid meteors

Watching The Skies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Though the Perseid meteor shower will peak early Thursday morning, you should be able to see lovely views into the weekend if you get away from the city lights.

The Perseids are one of the most reliable meteor showers of the year, said Dave DeBruyn, curator emeritus at the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. The annual shower happens as Earth passes through a stream of icy debris left behind by the Comet Swift-Tuttle. Pieces of debris from the comet enter Earth’s atmosphere and we see bright streaks of light as they heat up and burn up overhead.

One of the best things about the Perseids is that you don’t need binoculars or a telescope to see them. Your eyes alone will allow you to see the meteors. DeBruyn said it’s best to observe meteors after midnight when our part of Earth is oriented in a way that allows us to see them head-on.

The best viewing will be away from city lights and you’ll want to scan the sky in all directions. 

The Veen Observatory in Lowell is hosting a public viewing night starting at 9 p.m. Saturday and continuing all night. It’s recommended that you bring blankets, proper clothing and snacks. In addition to the meteors, you’ll be able to spot Jupiter, Saturn and several other celestial objects. 

Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for kids under the age of 18. More information is available at GRAAA.org. The event will only take place if there are clear skies and as of Wednesday, it looked like the weather will cooperate.

The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society will also be hosting a public observing session. It will be held at the Kalamazoo Nature Center from 9 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday. More information can be found at KASonline.org.

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