This weekend, from August 11th to the 13th, the Perseid Meteor Shower will fill the sky with hundreds of shooting stars. According to NASA, this year’s Perseid Shower is even more special because Jupiter, Venus and the crescent Moon are aligning while stars streak the night.
On August 11th, a 33% crescent Moon will glide by Jupiter, temporarily forming a bright pair directly above brilliant Venus. Red-giant star Aldebaran will be there, too, adding a splash of color to the gathering.
On August 12th, the narrowing 24% crescent Moon will drop down between Jupiter and Venus. Together they make a bright 3-point line in the sky, frequently bisected by shooting stars.
On August 13th, with the shower just beginning to wane, the planets put on their best show yet: The 17% crescent moon will pass less than 3 degrees from Venus as Jupiter hovers overhead. Sky watchers say there’s nothing prettier than a close encounter between the slender crescent Moon and Venus—nothing, that is, except for the crescent Moon, Venus and a flurry of Perseids.
That all sounds very awesome, but what’s the best way to see the shower?
Our friends at io9 explain that it’s best to avoid light like the plague. That means if you’re in a city, get away as far as you can to ditch the urban glare. Lights screw everything up when it comes to looking up at the night sky. Also, the best time to watch the Perseids is the dark hours right before dawn (though realistically any time after 11pm is fine too).
But do you need binoculars or a telescope? Nope! For the Perseids you won’t need anything fancy, just a clear night sky and a strong neck, as you’ll be looking up for quite a while.