Perseids meteor shower: Clear skies predicted for tonight's 'spectacular' firework display
Steve Connor is the Science Editor of The Independent and i. He has won many awards for his journalism, including five-times winner of the prestigious British science writers’ award; the David Perlman Award of the American Geophysical Union; four times highly commended as specialist journalist of the year in the UK Press Awards; UK health journalist of the year and a special merit award of the European School of Oncology for his investigations into the tobacco industry. He has a degree in zoology from the University of Oxford and has a special interest in genetics and medical science, human evolution and origins, climate change and the environment.
Sunday 11 August 2013
The annual firework display in the sky known as the Perseids meteor shower – one of the most spectacular examples of “shooting stars” – could reach a peak this evening and Tuesday morning, astronomers said.
Each year between 17 July and 24 August, the meteor shower is active as the Earth’s orbit around the Sun passes through the cosmic material trailing from the tail of comet Swift-Tuttle, which last passed through our vicinity in 1992.
On Monday evening and Tuesday morning there is the possibility of seeing bright streaks of light flash through the sky at a rate of about one or two a minute, according to the Royal Astronomical Society.
“This year the prospects for the shower are relatively good, as the Moon is a waxing crescent and will have set from most of the UK by 11pm, meaning that its light will not interfere significantly with the view,” it said.
Meteors, also known as shooting stars, are small particles of material that collide with the Earth’s upper atmosphere at speeds of 36 miles per second, vaporising into flashes of light in the process.
Debris from the tail of Swift-Tuttle hits the atmosphere on the Earth’s annual migration around the Sun and appear to originate from a “radiant” in the constellation of Perseus, hence the name for the meteor shower.
“Unlike many celestial events, meteor showers are straightforward to watch and, for most people, the best equipment to use is simply your own eyes,” the society said. “Advice from meteor observers is to wrap up well and set up a reclining chair to allow you to look up at the sky in comfort. If possible it also helps to be in a dark site away from artificial light,” it said.
Professor Alan Fitzsimmons of Queen’s University Belfast said: “Comet Swift-Tuttle won’t be visiting our neck of the woods again until 2125, but every year we get this beautiful reminder as the Earth ploughs through the debris it leaves in its orbit.”
A shooting star of the Perseids meteor shower in Budapest, Hungary
A Perseids meteor shower in Madrid
A meteor sparks, lower right, entering the Earth's atmosphere in Greece
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 3 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 4 James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
- 5 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...