It’s time for the biggest light show of the year. From tonight, the Perseid meteor shower will be reaching its peak, giving you a chance to see a shooting star over the next few evenings.
They are active between 17 July and 24 August but most visible for just a few days, when the debris hitting the atmosphere reaches its peak.The Perseids are an annual event, the result of Earth crossing through debris from the tail of comet Swift-Tuttle. Bits of dust and rock burn up in the atmosphere, appearing as bright lights in the night’s sky.
That’s double the usual rate, though some dispute whether this year’s Perseids will be particularly special.This year, Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Alabama predicts we could see as many as 200 meteors per hour, in perfect conditions.
Whatever happens, for the best chance of seeing the show, which is mostly visible in the northern hemisphere, look up at the sky between midnight and dawn on Friday morning. The shower appears to come from the direction of the constellation Perseus, which gives the meteors their name, but as long as you look away from the bright light of the moon, you should spot them.
Give it at least half an hour, and keep your phone in your pocket – bright light ruins your night vision and makes it harder to see the streaks. You won’t need a telescope or binoculars, but a comfy chair or blanket might make things easier. Enjoy!