Perseid meteor shower lights up August skies

A Perseid meteor photographed in August 2009 by Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK.
Date:11 August 2010

This year’s Perseid meteor shower peaks on 12-13 August and it promises to be one of the best displays of the year.

If forecasters are correct, the shower should produce a peak display of at least 80 meteors per hours. A waxing crescent Moon will set before the shower becomes active, setting a perfect stage for meteor watching – weather permitting, of course!

The Perseids have been observed for at least 2 000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun once every 133 years. Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet’s debris. These bits of ice and dust – most over 1 000 years old – burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere to create one of the best meteor showers of the year. The Perseids can be seen all over the sky, but the best viewing opportunities will be across the northern hemisphere. Those with sharp eyes will see that the meteors radiate from the direction of the constellation Perseus.

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