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The Perseids are back! This week, you can catch the 2020 Perseid meteor shower, a favorite of many skywatchers, as it peaks thanks to four different webcasts over the next two days from the Virtual Telescope Project, NASA, Lowell Observatory and the online astronomy learning platform Slooh.
The Perseids meteor shower appears when Earth passes through the rubble left by Comet Swift-Tuttle and peaks this week in the early morning hours on Wednesday (Aug. 12), according to NASA. But you should still be able to enjoy great views of the Perseids on Aug. 11 and Aug. 13 as well if you can find your way to some dark skies. The bright meteor shower has an impressive average rate of between 50 and 75 meteors per hour; in outburst years, it can produce upwards of 150 to 200 meteors per hour.
So how can you catch a glimpse of the Perseids? Meteor showers are best viewed with the naked eye, Slooh said in an email statement. However, bright moonlight from the waning last-quarter moon this year could interfere with catching glimpse of the spectacle.
Luckily, the Lowell Observatory, NASA, Slooh and the Virtual Telescope Project will all be sharing webcasts of the spectacle so, one way or another, you'll be able to spot some meteors. Read on for our Perseids webcast guide for 2020.
Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. ET: Virtual Telescope Project
The Virtual Telescope Project will be hosting a live Perseids-watching event beginning at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT) on Aug. 11. The project provides online views through a number of robotic telescopes, coordinated by the Bellatrix Astronomical Observatory in Italy and managed by astronomer Gianluca Masi.
Aug. 1 at 9 p.m. ET: NASA
NASA will be livestreaming the meteors as well. The agency will begin its free stream showcasing the Perseids meteor shower on NASA TV at 9 p.m. EDT on Aug. 11 (0100 GMT on Aug. 12).
You can watch NASA's broadcast live here on NASA TV.
Aug. 12 at 12 a.m. ET: Lowell Observatory webcast
Lowell Observatory in Arizona is hosting a free, interactive livestream broadcast of the Perseids meteor shower beginning at 12 a.m. EDT (0400 GMT) Aug. 12.
Observatory astronomer Nick Moskovitz and research assistant Megan Gialluca will host the livestream, using the All-Sky camera at the observatory's Lowell Discovery Telescope to spot meteors while they discuss the history and science behind the Perseids.
Aug. 12 at 7 pm ET: Slooh webcast
During a special free, public party starting at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) on Aug. 12, Slooh will be broadcasting live streams of the meteors using special low-light video cameras. Views will come from the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands and the Sharjah Academy for Astronomy in the United Arab Emirates, among other institutions.
Slooh's live webcast will available live here at Space.com, courtesy of Slooh, on Slooh's Facebook, Twitter and Youtube channels or at Slooh's website if you are a paying member. Slooh members will also be able to ask Slooh's experts questions live over Zoom during the broadcast.
"The Perseids are usually the most popular meteor shower of the year. Slooh members gather together from around the globe to watch the live feeds in awe and wonder as fragments of Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle vaporize spectacularly as they enter Earth's atmosphere traveling at an astonishing 133,200 mph (60 kilometers per second)!" Slooh astronomer Paul Cox said in the statement.
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