Perseids meteor shower, August 12th 2012: Hawaii viewing tips

The Perseids promise to be one of the best meteor showers to watch in 2012 from Hawaii for three reasons: [1] The Perseids are one of the biggest meteor showers of the year. [2] The moon is almost new (at 18% of peak brightness), and only rises after 2:20 a.m. [3] The peak of the Perseids falls between 2 and 4:30 a.m. on August 12th in Hawaii, and early mornings are always the best time to watch a meteor shower.

If you manage to find a comfortable and dark spot to watch this meteor shower you’d better bring a long wish-list, because up to 60 shooting stars / hour are expected.

This article is about the 2012 Perseids meteor shower. For up-to-date information read about the 2013 Perseids

If you are planning to watch this years Perseids meteor shower, we recommend that you have a look at our meteor shower guide for viewing tips and meteor background information specifically tuned for Hawaii! You can also have a look here if you want to find out more about stargazing on Hawaii.

Perseids Trivia

The Perseids happen each year as earth passes by a trail of dust, gas and ice left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. This comet was first documented in 1862, and returns to the sun every 130 years (the next time it will be visible will be in 2122). The earliest recorded sighting of Perseids dates back to 36 AD, when mention was made of “more than 100 meteors” in Chinese annals (source).

The Perseids are also referred to as the “tears of St. Lawrence”, because the festival of this saint is very close (August 10th) to the peak of the Perseids. The story of Laurentius (Lawrence), a Christian deacon, is the following: Laurentius was martyred by the Romans in 258 AD on an iron outdoor stove. It was in the midst of this torture that Laurentius cried out: (source)

I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other.

In honor of this history, one very appropriate midnight-snack to take out is the typically Hawaiian “Huli-Huli” (= turn-turn in Hawaiian) Chicken.

When and where can you see the Perseids?

The Perseids are at their most active between 02:00 and 04:30 a.m. Hawaiian time on August 12th, but you may be able to see meteors any time from July 22 – August 21. The radiant (or place where the shooting stars seem to come from) of this meteor shower lies in Perseus, which rises just after midnight over the north-eastern horizon. You can see where to find the radiant at midnight, 02:00 and 04:00 am with the sky charts below.

Because the moon is not very bright and rises only the second part of the night (see the table below), the best viewing is around 01:00 a.m. on August 12th, but if you won’t be able to look for the Perseids on that night, you can also try your luck in the nights after.

Plan you Perseid viewing before moonrise with this moonrise table for August 11-15 2012
Date Moonrise Brightness Sunrise
August 11 00:58 32% 06:00
August 12 01:46 23% 06:00
August 13 02:37 15% 06:00
August 14 3:30 9% 06:01
August 15 4:25 4% 06:01

On the sky charts below you can see how to find the radiant of the Perseids meteor shower. It is important to know that you can see the Perseids in a large part of the sky (so even at midnight you will be able to see a lot). If you trace back the trail left by any shooting star, you will find it’s radiant. On August 12th, this radiant will be Perseus.

Meteor shower viewing tips

Watching a meteor shower can be very simple: Turn of the lights in your house, sit in your garden with a bottle of wine and a wish-list, and start counting. This is the most popular and easy way to enjoy shooting stars, and should suit most people.

However, meteor showers offer a great excuse for a midnight excursion and if you are willing to invest some time you can have a great (and educational) time with your friends and/or kids.

Darkness is your friend, and you can see most shooting stars in dark places. This means that you have to drive out of the city (preferably to a high place, Waimea or Volcano anyone?) and pack picnic supplies and chairs/blankets for comfortable watching.

Have a look at our meteor shower guide for a pack-list, some “must bring” accessories and meteor shower trivia and background information.

Where will you watch the Perseids meteor shower?

The best places to watch a meteor shower are the ones that have dark skies and little light pollution. Luckily Hawaii is full of such places, and while there are many good places to watch, it is often more fun to watch the meteors together.

Do you know of a great destination with little or no light pollution in your area to view meteor showers? Is there a confirmed meet-up? We’d love to hear about your favorite viewing spot in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Perseids meteor shower, August 12th 2012: Hawaii viewing tips

  1. Hi Pattie,
    I just moved here from Maui recently. Baldwin Beach and “baby beach” just north of it (attached and reached from a different road that also gets you to the Sprecklesville Golf Course) could be nice. Be sure you have a friend as it isn’t always safe after dark there. Or you could drive another 20 minutes to the 16 mile marker at Haumana Rd. Take a right to Kulike, drive to the end and walk out to the point. You can sit on the cliffs there and undoubtedly there will be others watching with you.

    Meanwhile, I live in Ninole now, close to Laupohoehoe. I don’t have good visibility from my yard, but am thinking to go either up or down the road and would like to ask whoever is monitoring this site what they might recommend? or do I need to go further north?
    Many Mahalos for posting this info!

  2. 60 per hour. That’s one a minute. Nothing like the show (once in a lifetime show) in 2001. That show was ridiculous in terms of meteors per hour. You simply couldn’t count as it was literally raining falling stars. They were raining down in all kinds of colors and some weren’t falling. They were rising out from the horizon and up into the sky sometimes together in two or three in different colors. It was the show of a lifetime. The next time it will be like that we will all be dead. Had to see it and Hawaii had one heck of a great point of view. So 60 an hour is actually pretty boring unless of course you got nothing else to do. Makes for a nice romantic date if you can find a nice safe, dark place. Who knows, all those falling stars might just put her into the mood.

    • Aloha Joe,

      That must have been some show, you were very fortunate to have experienced it. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      I have not yet seen such a breathtaking meteor shower, but find myself amazed every time I see a meteor shower – active or not. Just to realize that those shooting stars are caused by our planet hurling through space, sweeping up debris that was left over from the formation of our solar system makes it a special experience.

      I guess “boring” is in the eye of the beholder. I hope many people will enjoy this years Perseids. 60 / hour still means it is one of the most active meteor showers of the year.

  3. Hi,
    I’m here in Wailea visiting and am so excited to have a chance to view the periseids on the islands…
    Do you have a suggestion for a dark sky area that is within an hour if the Grand Wailea?

    • Aloha Pattie,

      most places on Maui will be good for seeing the Perseids. I always like to go to a beach with some food, drinks and a recliner chair to see the show.

      Since my stargazing-territory is the Big Island, I cannot give you a specific recommendation for Maui. However, try to keep the North-Eastern horizon as dark as possible. Perhaps someone of the Grand Waialea can help you with a good spot.

      If they do please post it back here for other readers and good luck!

      Good luck!

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