Perseids 2020 UK: When is the meteor shower’s peak?
The Perseid meteor shower is active each year between mid-July and the last week of August. During this window of meteor activity, Earth crosses paths with the dusty tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle. Bits and pieces of debris that have broken off from the comet slam into our atmosphere at breakneck speeds.
The meteors reach speeds of about 36 miles per second and are heated up to thousands of degrees.
As they vaporise in the atmosphere, they create bright tails of light that zip across the sky.
The Royal Observatory Greenwich in London said: “In some Catholic traditions, the Perseids is also known as ‘the tears of St Lawrence’, due to its peak roughly coinciding with the date which the Saint achieved martyrdom.”
The meteor shower is also associated with the Roman god Priapus, who was believed to have fertilised fields once a year on the day of the shower’s peak.
When will the Perseid meteor shower peak?
The Perseids are active each year from around mid-July until the last week of August.
This year, astronomers estimate the shower will produce shooting stars between July 17 and August 24.
However, the shower is best seen on the night of its peak, when up to 100 meteors an hour grace the night sky.
Until then, you will have a chance to see individual meteors, with the numbers increasing each night.
The Perseids is also known as ‘the tears of St Lawrence
Royal Observatory Greenwich
The Perseids are then expected to peak on the night of August 11 into August 12.
Meteor showers are typically best seen between midnight and the wee morning hours before dawn.
This is when the skies are darkest and, weather permitting, viewing conditions are optimal.
Next week, keep your eyes peeled for the Perseids between midnight and 5.30am the following day.
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How to see the Perseid meteor shower?
The Perseids will appear to radiate from their namesake constellation Perseus.
However, the constellation is hidden under the horizon when viewed from the UK.
As a result, you might even be able to spot some meteors as soon as the Sun sets for the day – 8.29 BST for London on August 11.
The Royal Observatory said: “Observers can look out for the shower wherever they are, but there are certain kinds of places that will increase your chances of spotting meteors.
“Plan ahead and check the weather forecast. If it is likely to be inclement, find a different location or go out on a different day.
“The days leading up to the peak are usually better than the days after.”
Stay away from any sources of light pollution that might hinder your experience. Avoid cars, buildings and street lamps.
And remember your eyes will need to adjust to the dark, anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
Finally, kick back and try to take in as much of the sky at once as possible.
If possible, find a clear view of the horizon without trees or buildings.
The Royal Observatory said: “Meteors can appear in any part of the sky so the more sky you can see the better.
“Find an area with a clear view of the horizon and away from trees and buildings.
“Binoculars and telescopes are not necessary as they will restrict the size of the sky that will be visible to you.”
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