2017 Perseids

The most popular meteor shower of the year.

Main Activity Dates July 17 to August 24
Peak Rates Aug 12d 19h UT
Peak ZHR 80
Best Observed Rates During the night of Aug 12-13
Visibility each night (UK) Visible all night
Moonlight issues at Maximum Significant – Gibbous Moon in Pisces

The Perseids remain a favourite with most observers.

Although they are out-performed by December’s Geminids in terms of observed meteor rates, the Perseids have the advantage of occurring at a time of year when the nights are not too cool and at a time when many people take their summer breaks.

Although Perseid activity can be seen over a period of more than a month, the best rates occur in the days around Aug 12th.  The “traditional” Perseid maximum in 2017 is predicted for Aug 12d19h UT and the best observed rates from this are likely to be seen during the night of Aug 12-13.  Good rates are also likely during the nights of Aug 11-12 and 13-14, so don’t just focus on the night of Aug 12-13 (and risk it being clouded out).

The Full Moon of Aug 7 will seriously hinder visual observations of the rise in Perseid rates towards maximum. Unfortunately the Moon is slow to move out of the evening sky after this and moves closer to Perseus. On maximum night it is rising at around 23h BST (22h UT) and is located in Pisces. You can minimise its effect by keeping it outside of your field of view – possibly observe with your back to the Moon.
Some early Perseid activity can also be seen in late July alongside the Delta Aquarid-S and Alpha Capricornid activity. At these times moonlight will be less of a problem.

The Perseid radiant is circumpolar from the UK, so you should start to see some Perseids as soon as it gets dark. The best observed rates are likely to occur in late in the night when the radiant is higher in the sky.

Few Perseids will be seen if you look directly at the shower radiant (their paths will be too short to easily see against the star background). For the best observed rates, look at an area of sky around 30-40 degrees from the radiant and at an altitude of around 50 degrees (but obviously tailor this to take into account local factors such as sky obstructions and light pollution … and of course the Moon)

Being rich in bright meteors makes the Perseid shower a good target for imaging. Video observers in particular will benefit – they can even record bright meteors with the Moon inside their field of view!

Here are very useful guides to

imaging using a DSLR http://popastro.com/meteor/observingmeteors/DSLR/index.php

and imaging using a video camera http://popastro.com/meteor/observingmeteors/video/index.php

The shower is also good for trained meteors, with around a third leaving persistent trains.

Care should be taken to identify the correct location for the Perseid radiant (see the chart below) before observing, as this changes significantly between late July and the Aug 12 peak.

Perseid radiant
Perseid radiant