The Perseid meteor shower is now at its peak as our planet passes through a cloud of cosmic dust left behind from Comet Swift-Tuttle. The event marks one of the high points in the astronomical calendar. Stargazers hoping to spot the phenomenon should try looking to the night sky during its peak today and tomorrow, after which the dazzling display will begin tailing off before finally coming to an end later this month.
What are the Perseids?
This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of cometary material
Royal Museums Greenwich describes the Perseid shower – named because the meteors appear to dart out of the Perseus constellation – as one of the best meteor showers of the year.
According to space agency NASA, the Perseids are among the most plentiful meteor showers humans can observe, with as many as 100 meteors visible every hour.
The Perseids are also known for their fireballs – larger explosions of light and colour that can persist longer than an average meteor streak.
NASA said: “This is due to the fact that fireballs originate from larger particles of cometary material.”
The Perseids are also brighter than even the brightest stars visible in the northern hemisphere and will offer an incredible show if you are awake.
How to live stream the Perseid meteor shower:
Online telescope Slooh is offering stargazers the opportunity to enjoy the Perseid phenomenon, courtesy of a live stream available on the group’s YouTube channel and website.
You can enjoy the stream in the embedded video player above from midnight tonight.
Slooh said: “Join our Perseids Meteor Shower Star Party Live on the night of Wednesday, August 12th, starting at 7pm EDT (12am BST).
“Other timezones: 4pm PDT ¦ 11pm UTC ¦ 4.30am IST
“The Perseids Meteor Shower isn’t the most prolific of the year, but it is one of the most popular and reliable.
“Warm August nights make meteor watching for Perseids a Summer celestial treat.
“Meteor watchers can expect rates up to 50 to 75 meteors per hour under ideal conditions.”
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How to see the Perseid meteor shower:
Stargazers can look out for the shower wherever they are in the UK.
But there are certain areas that will boost your chance of spotting the Perseid meteors.
Plan ahead and check the weather forecast – if it is likely to be unsuitable for spotting shooting stars, find a different location or go out on a different day.
The days leading up to the peak are usually better than the days after.
Reduce the amount of light pollution in your field of vision.
This could simply involve heading to the countryside, a park or even do something as simple as turning your back to street lights if you are not able to go anywhere.
Next, give your eyes a minimum of a quarter of an hour to adjust to the dark so that you can catch more of the fainter meteors.
Meteors can appear in any part of the sky so the more sky you can see the better.
Select an area with a clear view of the horizon and away from trees and buildings.
Binoculars and telescopes are not necessary as they will restrict the size of the sky that will be visible to you.
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