The Perseid meteor shower gets underway in July of each year but hits a spectacular peak in early August. For 2021, the crescendo of the annual cosmic show comes Aug. 12-13. With minimal interference from light reflecting off the moon, this year was expected to be one of the best for the Perseids in some time. Plenty of night sky watchers and astrophotographers weren't disappointed, like Mary McIntyre, who caught one Perseid going full fireball over Oxfordshire in the UK on Aug. 11. Click through for more great shots.
In this 30-second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky over Spruce Knob, West Virginia, on Aug. 11.
"The night of August 11-12 showed only a few dim meteors that traced back to Perseus," writes photographer John Ashley after a night spent looking up from Marion, Montana. "The handful of brightest meteors that I saw came through at other angles, like this one, and were probably the nightly sporadic variety. Jupiter and Saturn also appear in the left. "
This Perseid failed to wave as it zipped by Jupiter on Aug. 3.
"It was a very lucky shot as I'd just repositioned the camera and was taking a test shot. Suddenly, a bright Perseid shot through the frame," recalls photographer Steve Brown from North Yorkshire, UK.
It takes a lot to outshine the Perseids, but the aurora borealis over Alberta might just have done it.
A discharge of electricity associated with thunderstorms sometimes shows up in the sky in the form of red sprites. They were soaring in this picture that also shows a bright Perseid. Sprites and meteors occur at around the same altitude.
This composite image from the yard of Jeremy Perez in Flagstaff, Arizona, features three Perseids accompanying the Andromeda galaxy near the top.
"After many years of shooting meteor showers, this is probably the longest meteor trail I've ever captured," says photographer Kevin Palmer. "It fell just before midnight (on Aug. 10), above Angel Lake in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada."
Northern Ireland seems to have been the right place to watch Perseids on the morning of Aug. 12. Paul Martin reports seeing 150 Perseids, including five fireballs, with one so bright it lit up the entire southwest sky.
Eckhard Slawik of Germany used a filter to bring out the color of some brighter stars and the Perseids in this composite.
Another report from Martin McKenna of Perseids aplenty in Northern Ireland and those epic fireballs.
"One fireball in particular at 2:14 a.m. was a significant event, despite being low in the western horizon behind hazy cloud, it lit the sky up like daylight as if a bolt of lightning had flashed, casting shadows everywhere, a truly epic experience."
Astronomer Giuseppe Donatiello captured this impressive shot of a Perseid with a long trail from Italy on Aug. 6.
A Perseid can be seen streaking above Idaho's Bogus Basin in this shot taken Aug. 12 by photographer Jeff Walker.
It's generally best to look for meteors between midnight and sunrise when they're more likely to appear high in the sky. But just after sunset is often the best time to see an impressive Earth-grazer along the horizon, like this one near Tucson, Arizona.
Staring up at the sky can be a little disorienting, just as it's hard to figure out which way is up in this composite image of five different Perseids from John Purvis in Northern Ireland.
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