Stargazers are in for a treat this August as the annual Perseid meteor shower – one of the most active of the year – lights up the night sky.
The annual celestial event is one of the best meteor showers to observe each year and it can produce up to 100 meteors or ‘shooting stars’ an hour.
It occurs every year between mid-July and late August – usually peaking over a couple of days in the middle of August.
Find out how to see the meteors, the best times, and what the weather is forecast to do on the night.
What is the Perseid meteor shower?
The Perseid meteor shower is a result of debris falling from the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle bursting into Earth’s atmosphere.
The comet’s orbital period is about 130 years and the meteors or ‘shooting stars’ are the result of small particles, in some cases as small as a grain of sand, entering the Earth’s upper atmosphere at some 130,000mph and lighting up the nighttime as fast-moving streaks of light.
Comet 109 P/Swift-Tuttle, last passed near the Earth in 1992.
When and how can I see the meteors?
The shower is active this year from around July 17 to August 24, although for most of that period only a few meteors an hour will be visible.
It will peak on the night of Saturday August 12 when there will be up to 100 meteors an hour.
To see them you do not need a telescope, binoculars or any other equipment.
The Perseids come from a point in front of the constellation Perseus which is in the north-eastern part of the sky, however the meteors can be seen from any point in the sky.
Just wrap up warm and head outside and find a spot of night sky away from bright city lights and look up.
Give yourself at least an hour of observing time as the meteors can come in spurts and are interspersed with lulls.
Can a meteor hit me?
The meteors and shooting stars you see are tiny particles or grains of rock and dust. They burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at some 130,000mph.
What will the weather be like during the peak of the meteor shower?
It is still a bit early to say for definite if there will be cloud or not on the night of Saturday 12 August.