The Perseids: Catch a shooting star

 

The annual Perseid meteor shower, one of the brighter meteor showers of the year, reaches its peak this weekend. While the skies are lit up several times a year by other meteor showers, the Perseids are widely sought after by astronomers and stargazers. This is because, at its peak, one can see 60 to 100 meteors in an hour from a dark place.

Made of tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus.

This year, the waxing Moon may ‘contaminate’ the dark sky with light, but here are some top tips for seeing the best of the display:

 

Pray for clear skies!

  • Get out of town. Find a place as far away as possible from artificial lights.
  • Look between the north-east part of the sky and the zenith (the point in the sky directly above you).
  • Prepare to wait. Bring something to sit or lie down on. Star gazing is a waiting game, so get comfortable.
  • Pray for clear skies!

 

Which brings us onto the forecast.  Despite all the recent cloud and rain, a window of fine weather looks like crossing the UK this weekend. Indeed, at the peak of the meteor shower on Saturday night, there’s a good chance of the skies being fairly clear.