When is the Perseid Meteor shower and how can I see it?

The Perseids is an annual meteor shower that peaks around mid-August,with this year’s peak expected between 11 and 13 August.

It’s regarded as one of the brightest and most visible meteor showers. Here’s everything you need to know about the spectacle, including dates and where to see it. 

What is a meteor shower?

Ameteor shower occurs when Earth passes through the debris stream occupying the orbit of a comet, in this case comet Swift-Tuttle.

Perspective makes meteor showers appear to emanate from a single point in the sky known as the shower radiant. A typical meteor results from a particle the size of a grain of sand vaporising in Earth’s atmosphere when it enters at 134,000mph.

Something larger than a grape will produce a fireball and this is often accompanied by a persistent afterglow known as a meteor train. This is a column of ionised gas slowly fading from view as it loses energy.

The Perseids appear to originate from within the star constellation Perseus, hence the shower’s name.

A shooting star, top left, is seen during the Perseid meteor shower in Poland in 2016.  Credit: EPA/LUKASZ OGRODOWCZYK

When can I see the Perseid meteor shower?

The window for this year’s meteor shower is from July 17 to August 24. Stargazers stand a chance of seeing the shower at any point in this window, however the peak will occur around August 11, 12 and 13. 

The best time to take a look at the sky will be from about 1am BST in the Northern Hemisphere until the onset of dawn twilight.

Space.com says the moon, which will be three-quarters full at the time of the peak, will rise around 11pm meaning the spectacle will be trickier to see this year. However, sky-watchers should still be able to see the shower, despite the moon’s glare. 

Peak rates of 150-200 meteors per hour were recorded in 2016, but typical rates are about 80 meteors an hour streaking across the night sky, each leaving a trail.  

The worlds best stargazing locations

How can I see it?

Choose a dark location away from stray lights and give yourself at least 20 minutes in total darkness to properly dark adapt.

Look at a height approximately two-thirds up the sky in any direction. If you want a recommendation, east through south offers some great background constellations in the early hours during August.

Look for the shower’s “radiant” from the north-east corner of Perseus.

Here are a few great places to view the shower.

Galloway Forest Park: Galloway is a couple of hours from Glasgow and an hour from…

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