Perseid meteor shower 2021 webcasts: How to watch the 'shooting stars' at their peak live tonight

If you aren't able to go outside and enjoy the annual Perseid meteor shower at its peak tonight, or you want to learn more about the science of shooting stars, there are lots of webcasts coming to tell you more.

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In this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, in Spruce Knob, West Virginia.

(Image credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA)

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The Perseids happen each year in August and are expected to reach their peak this year between Aug. 11 to 13 (Wednesday to Friday), with the best viewing hours between midnight and dawn on Thursday (Aug. 12), according to NASA.  That means the peak is overnight tonight.

Earth is passing through the stream of Comet Swift-Tuttle just as a crescent moon is lighting the sky. Just a few days past the new moon, which arrived Sunday (Aug. 8), the absence of bright moonlight in the night sky will provide almost ideal conditions to catch these cometary crumbs as they slam into our atmosphere, causing the fragments to glow dramatically as "shooting stars."

Amazing Pics: Stunning Perseid meteor shower 2021 photos by stargazers
Perseid meteor shower 2021: When, where & how to see it 

Below is a selection of the live webcasts where you can watch the Perseid meteor shower online this week, featuring telescope views from NASA and others around the world.

The Virtual Telescope Project

Aug. 11 at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 Aug. 12 GMT)

The Virtual Telescope Project, which is based near Rome, Italy, will run a livestream starting at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0000 or midnight GMT Thursday). "We will broadcast the meteor shower live, online, for free," the website stated on its event page. "We will share the view of our wide field cameras, to show any potential meteor they will capture."

McDonald Observatory

Aug. 11 at 10:45-11:45 p.m. EDT (0245-0345 Aug. 12 GMT) 

The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas plans a short livestream between 10:45 p.m. EDT and 11:45 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0245 and 0345 GMT Thursday.) "In addition to live views, we will discuss the origins of meteor showers, their relationship with comets, and much more," the event's YouTube page stated. "Moderators in the live chat will be taking questions, and the host will take more at the end."

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

Starts: Aug. 11 at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 Aug. 12 GMT)
Ends: Aug. 12 at 6 a.m. EDT (0300-1000 GMT)

The Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will stream live Perseid views from its skywatching cameras between 11 p.m. EDT Wednesday and 6 a.m. EDT Thursday (0400-1000 GMT Thursday). 

The center said that viewers have the choice of dropping in or remaining online throughout the show. "Stick around, or check back in when you can," NASA officials wrote on the Facebook event page. "If skies are cloudy, we'll reschedule for the night of August 12." 

Once the webcast becomes available, you can watch it live here in the window above, courtesy of NASA. You can also tune in via NASA Marshall's Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages. (In the meantime, you can watch this new video of early Perseid meteors captured by NASA's All-sky Fireball Network.)

Lowell Observatory

Aug. 12 at 12-1 a.m. EDT (0400-0500 GMT)

The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona — the place where Pluto was famously discovered — will start a livestream at 12 a.m. EDT Thursday (0500 GMT) to hunt down meteors as the skies get dark. Research assistant Megan Gialluca will host the live broadcast. 

"We'll use the All-Sky Camera at the Lowell Discovery Telescope to hunt for meteors together," the observatory stated on the livestream page. "After that, you'll be ready to find more on your own, when the meteor showers peak in the hours before dawn."

Kopernik Observatory

Aug. 12 at 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 Aug. 13 GMT)

The Kopernik Observatory in Vestal, New York (just outside of Binghamton) plans a virtual observing session starting at 9:30 p.m. EDT Thursday (0130 GMT Friday). "Our livestream astronomer, Jeremy Cartie, will be available for commentary and questions," officials stated on the YouTube page, adding, "with the recent new moon, the only thing standing in our way of a great show is the weather."

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: