Every year, the Perseid meteor shower is a must-see for starry sky enthusiasts across the globe. And this weekend, the annual star show is scheduled to peak in Michigan!
What You Need to Know About the 2023 Perseids Meteor Shower
The Perseids meteor shower is an annual event that happens every year around mid-August.
As Earth orbits around the sun, it passes through a cloud of debris left behind by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle (aka Comet Swift-Tuttle). When these tiny pieces of rock and dust enter Earth’s atmosphere, they burn up and create bright streaks of light in the sky.
The best time to see the Perseids is during their peak, which will occur around 4:00 am EDT on Sunday, August 13th, 2023. During this time, you might be able to see up to 140 meteors per hour!
However, you should still see meteors shoot across the night sky before and after the peak time.
Fun Fact: The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus because that’s where the shooting stars seem to come from. Astronomers call this point the “radiant.” The best time to look for shooting stars is when Perseus is high in the sky.
Keep reading to learn more about meteor showers and find out where to watch the Perseids meteor shower in Michigan this weekend…
About Meteors & Meteor Showers
Meteoroids are small pieces of space debris that range in size from tiny specks of dust to large fragments of asteroids or comets. When a meteoroid enters Earth’s atmosphere, it creates a bright streak of light in the sky called a meteor.
People used to think that meteors were just a part of the Earth’s atmosphere, but we now know that they come from space. If any pieces of the meteoroid survive and reach the ground, they are called meteorites. The study of meteors and other atmospheric effects led to the science of meteorology.
Meteor showers are events that happen when Earth passes through a stream of dust and debris left behind by a comet. Most meteor showers come from comets, but one major shower comes from an asteroid. When Earth passes through the stream, the dust and debris burn up in our atmosphere and create shooting stars.
The “shooting stars” all seem to come from the same point in the sky, which is called the radiant point. This is because the particles are all traveling in parallel paths at the same velocity. The radiant point is named after the constellation it appears to be coming from. For example, the Perseids meteor shower seems to come from the constellation Perseus.
Meteor shower rates can vary a lot, with some showers producing only a few meteors per hour and others producing up to 100 per hour. The number of meteors seen will increase as Earth approaches the densest part of the stream and then decrease as Earth leaves. The peak of a meteor shower can last for a few hours or a few days.
There are also minor meteor showers, which are harder to detect because they produce fewer shooting stars. They usually only yield about 1-5 meteors per hour at their peak. It takes a lot of observing experience to recognize and classify minor shower meteors.
How to Watch a Meteor Shower
To observe a meteor shower, you’ll need to be familiar with the night sky and use star charts to locate constellations. It’s best to plan your observation session as close to the time of shower maximum as possible and to observe from a dark location away from city lights.
Once you’re at the observation site, give your eyes time to adjust to the dark (which can take over an hour) and use dim red lights sparingly. Most observers lie down in a lawn chair or sleeping bag and look about 45 degrees above the horizon in the direction of the shower radiant.
Meteor showers are best seen when the radiant is high in the sky, and meteors near the horizon will be dimmer and harder to notice. Patience is key when observing meteor showers, as they usually produce a steady show rather than a spectacular display. Each shooting star is like a natural fireworks display, and you never know when the next one will appear or how bright it will be.
FAQs About the 2023 Perseid Meteor Shower in Michigan
Can you see the Perseid meteor shower in Michigan?
Yes, you can see the Perseid meteor shower in Michigan. At least one meteor is expected to appear every minute or so during the shower’s peak, which is on August 12 and 13, 2023.
Where can you see Perseid meteor shower 2023?
You can see the Perseid meteor shower from anywhere in the world, but the best views are from areas with little light pollution. The Perseid meteor shower will be visible in the northern hemisphere.
What time is the Perseid meteor shower in 2023?
The peak activity of the Perseid meteor shower in 2023 will occur around 04:00 EDT (0800 GMT) on Sunday, August 13th.
What is the best time to see the Perseid meteor shower?
The best time to see the Perseid meteor shower is during its peak, which occurs around 04:00 EDT (0800 GMT) on Sunday, August 13th. However, you can still see some shooting stars before and after the peak time.
Where to See the 2023 Perseid Meteor Shower in Michigan
Michigan is fortunate to have both dark sky preserves and parks that provide stunning celestial views. These locations are specially chosen for their ability to limit artificial light, making them perfect for nighttime viewing. Additionally, the Upper Peninsula offers over 15,000 square miles of places for stargazing in Michigan.
When looking for the perfect spot to watch shooting stars, constellations, or the Northern Lights in Michigan, remember these tips:
- The further away from a town, the better.
- Check that the moon isn’t full.
- Charge your camera for long-exposure photos.
While any dark place with a clear view of the sky will work, many of Michigan’s designated dark sky parks will be hosting special events for the viewing of the 2023 Perseid meteor shower in Michigan.
Michigan Dark Sky Preserves
- Lake Hudson Recreation Area (Lenawee County)
- Negwegon State Park (Alcona County)
- Port Crescent State Park (Huron County)
- Rockport Recreation Area (Presque Isle County)
- Thompson’s Harbor State Park (Presque Isle County)
- Wilderness State Park (Emmet County)
International Dark Sky Preserves in Michigan
- Headlands Dark Sky Park (Emmet County)
- Keweenaw Dark Sky Park (Keweenaw County)
- Dr. T.K. Lawless Park (Cass County)
So, if you want to experience this awesome stargazing event, grab a blanket, head outside, and look up at the sky this weekend!
Note: Can’t get away to a dark place? Watch the free live-streaming event on the Virtual Telescope Project’s YouTube channel starting Saturday, August 12, at 11:30 pm EDT.