These are the best meteor showers to watch this summer

Summer is the ideal season for meteor showers because it's not too cold to be out in the middle of the night and the skies are generally clear.

 View of the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above the Negev desert, near Ramon Lookout, in southern Israel, on August 13, 2018.  (photo credit: ROY ALIMA/ FLASH 90)
View of the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above the Negev desert, near Ramon Lookout, in southern Israel, on August 13, 2018.
(photo credit: ROY ALIMA/ FLASH 90)

Whether you're looking for a decent camping experience or a romantic nighttime activity, watching meteor showers can be a fun and different experience.

The summer is the perfect time to view meteor showers because the weather is not too cold and in many places, the skies are clear.

So which are the best meteor showers to catch this summer – and when is the ideal time to view them?

Alpha Capricornids

This meteor shower began at the beginning of July, but it will run until mid-August, and the peak is expected to be on the night between July 30 and July 31 when the moon will be only 5% full.

 People watch the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above  the Golan Heights, on August 13, 2021. (credit: MICHAL GILADI/FLASH90) People watch the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above the Golan Heights, on August 13, 2021. (credit: MICHAL GILADI/FLASH90)

This shower is not considered to be very strong. Generally, no more than five meteors can be seen in an hour, but that doesn't mean that there is nothing to see. The Alpha Capricornids is known for producing a number of bright fireballs during their activity.

The best time to view the meteor shower is when the sky is darkest: after 11 p.m. when it gets dark and before 4 a.m. when the sun is almost rising.

Perseids 

The Perseids is the most popular anual meteor shower. Beginning in mid-July, it lasts until September 1 with a peak on August 12 or 13, depending on the year.

While the peak is generally the best time to watch the Perseids, this year, the full moon will be visible all night, meaning that the meteor shower will be harder to see this year. However, the peak of the Perseids rises gradually, so watching the shower the week before should provide a good view.

The meteors seen in the Perseids are actually particles released from the 109P/Swift-Tuttle comet - which returns to the inner solar system every year. The particles are colorful and leave persistent trains, making it the most famous and beloved meteor shower in the Northern Hemisphere.

The best time to view the Perseids will be in the middle of the night until just before dawn.

Piscis Austrinid

The Piscis Austrinid meteor shower began last week and will continue until August 10 with a peak on July 29.

When the peak arrives, the moon will be in its new phase, so it won't obstruct the view. The meteors in the shower are much fainter than those in the Perseids, but there can still be as many as 10 an hour.

The best time to watch is 3 a.m., but it will be visible a few hours before and until dawn.

What is a meteor shower?

A meteor shower is a celestial event in which meteors seem to be shooting across the sky – which is why they are also known as shooting stars.

The meteors are caused by cosmic debris called meteoroids that enter the Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories.

The distance from which we view them and the fact that the Earth is round make it look like they originate from the same point. Called the radiant, meteor showers are usually named after the closest constellation to it.