My parents were the first ones to introduce me to the wonder of the night sky---showing me how to identify the Big Dipper, pointing out the Northern Lights on late night drives, and even waking me up in the middle of the night to watch a meteor shower. I can still picture me and my siblings huddled in our blankets with our parents eating Oreos at the end of our driveway, competing to see who could count the most “shooting stars.” One night, we were lucky enough to catch a fireball light up the sky! These cherished childhood memories, and more I’ve made along the way, continue to fuel my desire to venture out into the night to see what’s on display in the heavens.
And according to amsmeteors.org we might be in for a treat July 17 - August 26, 2021. Known for its high volume of meteors with clear persistent trains, the Perseids are one of the most popular showers in the Northern Hemisphere. This year, it will peak on August 11-12 when the moon is only 13% full and will set in the early evening, providing dark skies for this year’s Perseids. In cloudless rural locations, it may be possible to see 50-100 shower members per hour! Many of the meteors will radiate from a point in the constellation Perseus, but you’ll be able to see them in any part sky after 9:00pm. They tend to strengthen in numbers into midnight, with the most meteors just before dawn.
So go enjoy a beautiful night under the stars--find yourself some dark sky, bring the snacks, and keep your fingers crossed for a fireball!
Want to dive a little deeper into backyard astronomy? Check out these titles from our library!
A glow-in-the dark guide to the night sky
by Chris Sasaki
Easy 523.8 SASAKI // Bring your flashlight to storytime and explore the stars with this glow-in-the-dark picture book! Featuring the stories behind some of the most famous constellations, this child-friendly introduction to the night sky is a perfect mix of simple science and storytelling.
A young enthusiast's guide to astronomy
by Harry Ford
520 FOR // Award-winning astronomer Harry Ford, brings a hands-on approach to astronomy to budding stargazers ages 10 and up. Filled with experiments and projects that help explain how a lunar eclipse happens, how to spot a planet, and how to make your own stargazing equipment.
A visual guide to the night sky
by Ian Ridpath
520 RID // New to the night sky? This practical field guide features clear, easy-to-use star charts and is a great introduction to constellations, the solar system, and celestial objects for middle-grade and high school readers.
An Explore Your World Handbook
by Mary Kalamaras
520 KALAMARAS // Designed for astronomy enthusiasts new and seasoned alike, this authoritative field guide combines fascinating information on the fundamentals of the universe with practical advice for identification and observation techniques, full color star maps, and an alphabetical guide to all 88 constellations.
by Terence Dickison and Alan Dyer
522 DICKINSON // Looking for a more technical approach to stargazing? This in-depth manual gets the amateur astronomer started identifying celestial objects, using telescopes, and photographing the night sky.