There's no better way to enjoy a sky full of shooting stars than to sleep beneath them.
Just like clockwork, every August our home orb wanders into the wake of the Swift-Tuttle comet and gives us the most spectacular show, otherwise known as the Perseid meteor shower. Who needs fireworks in July when in August you get comet flotsam turning the sky into a sea of shooting stars?
This year the stellar shower peaks in the night between August 12 and 13. While in some years you can see 60 meteors or more per hour, thanks to this year's nearly full moon, we will probably only see 20 meteors or so per hour. That said, other nights when the moon is less full will also provide plenty of opportunity to revel in the corruscating beauty of it all.As EarthSky notes: "People tend to focus on the peak mornings of the shower and that’s entirely appropriate. But meteors in annual showers – which come from streams of debris left behind in space by comets – typically last weeks, not days. Perseid meteors have been streaking across our skies since around July 17. We’ll see Perseids for 10 days or so after the peak mornings on August 11, 12 and 13. What’s more, the Perseids tend to build up gradually, yet fall off rapidly. So, any morning in late July through mid-August should offer a sprinkling of Perseid meteors."
For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the best time for viewing is when the constellation Perseus is higher in the sky, after 11:00 pm. And what's the best way to be outside and comfortable in the wee hours of the night? By sleeping under the stars, of course!
Sure, you can set up a blanket or a lounge chair – but why not set up a whole sleeping environment? Especially with kids, it's a wonderful way to experience the showers together, letting them drop off into slumber as needed. You can even wake up for a bit, watch some stars, and drift back to sleep. Nobody has to miss out on anything, and the loveliness of sleeping outside is an added bonus. All you need is some soft ground in a safe place and a pile of blankets and pillows. And stuffed animals.
Lloyd usually writes about the Perseids too, so look for more soon. And he has some great practical advice on how to watch them, here: Get ready for Peak Perseid Meteor Shower. In the meantime, I'm plotting out a patch of lawn to plop some sleeping bags on ... let the show begin!