Mon, 10 Aug 2020
THE Perseid meteor shower is an annual even which starts in mid-July, but reaches its peak on the night of August 11 and morning of the 12, when it should put on quite a show.
If you look anywhere in the lower part of the sky towards the north after it gets dark you might be able to see meteors every few minutes - weather permitting! At peak there could be on average 100 meteors per hour, with up to 75 meteors an hour or more visible from a dark site.
The best time to start looking for meteors is from midnight until 5.30am. Perseid rates will increase leading up to peak night when there will be a sudden increase in the rate of showers. The spectacular shower show will continue for a couple of nights before gradually receding.
Tony Hersh, from Newbury Astronomical Society explains: "As comets heat up near the Sun, ice inside them turns to gas and bubbles off the surface, taking dust and rubble with it.The particles of dust and rubble stay drifting in space, but if the Earth travels through them on our path round the Sun they heat up in our atmosphere, glowing white hot as they disintegrate and they appear as streaks of light across the sky.
"The comet that causes the Perseid meteors is dust and rubble left behind as the Swift-Tuttle comet approached the Sun in 1862."
How to spot a meteor:
Wrap up warm and lie back in a reclining chair or on the ground, try and keep clear of trees, lights and buildings. Get your eyes accustomed to the night sky and then just watch. Meteors can come from any direction and blink and you might miss them, but if you spot one it will be a bright streak flashing across the sky, either on its own or a group of them.
Good luck - and if you manage to capture the Perseid meteor shower on camera, email your images to email@example.com