You actually won't see several at once!

The Perseid meteors appear to stream away from the shower's "radiant" point near the border of Perseus and Cassiopeia. This is the perspective point where they would all appear to be coming from if you could see them approaching in the far distance. In fact we see them only in the last second or two as they streak into Earth's upper atmosphere, and this can happen anywhere in your sky. Under dark-sky conditions, you may see an average of one a minute around the time of the shower's peak.

Sky & Telescope illustration

Many skywatchers equate "August” with the annual Perseid meteors. This shower has a fairly sharp peak, which this year is forecast for about 3 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on August 12th. So the best time to look will be well before dawn on the 12 or the 13th.

While you’re waiting for the Perseids to appear — or on any other clear August evening — you won’t fail to notice a very bright beacon hanging over the western horizon. That’s Venus, and it sets about 1½ hours after the Sun all month. Much dimmer Saturn is positioned to Venus’s left by about four times the width of your fist held at arm’s length.

August is also a great month to seek out the Teapot asterism in Sagittarius. It's a group of eight medium-bright stars whose handle is on the left and whose spout, tipped down a bit, is on the right. From northern states and Europe, the Teapot is low in the south, so make sure you have a clear, unobstructed view in that direction.

To find out more about these and other sky sights, download this month's 7¼-minute-long audio audio sky tour.


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