Perseid meteor shower to light up Britain’s skies with shooting stars this week

Rob Waugh
·Contributor
·2-min read
T
The Perseids are one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year (Getty)

One of the best meteor showers of the year will unleash up to 100 shooting stars an hour as it reaches its peak this week, astronomers have said.

All through this week, the Perseid meteor shower will blaze across the sky as our planet flies through a cloud of dust from a comet.

The shower will peak between 11 and 13 August, according to Royal Museums Greenwich.

You won’t need binoculars or a telescope to watch, astronomy experts say (weather permitting).

The meteors occur yearly between 17 July and 24 August, but reach their peak this week.

The event, one of the high points in the celestial calendar, occurs as the Earth ploughs through dusty debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle.

Read more: Lyrid meteor shower captured in time-lapse

The meteors, mostly no bigger than a grain of sand, burn up as they hit the atmosphere at 36 miles per second to produce a shooting stream of light in the sky.

Peak temperatures can reach anywhere from 1,648C to 5,537C as they speed across the sky.

The meteors are called Perseids because they seem to dart out of the constellation Perseus.

This very colorful Perseid fireball was photographed during the peak of the 2017 Perseid meteor shower in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
This colourful Perseid fireball was photographed during the Perseid meteor shower in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. (Getty)

To make the best of the Perseids, observers should avoid built-up areas and try to find an unobstructed view to the east, experts suggest.

Royal Museums Greenwich suggests wannabe viewers should try to minimise the amount of light affecting their view.

Read more: Scientists warn dangerous space rocks could be hiding in meteor shower

An astronomer at the Greenwich Royal Observatory advises: “Reduce the amount of light pollution in your field of view. This could mean heading out to the countryside, a nearby park or even do something as simple as turning your back to street lamps if you are not able to go anywhere.

“Give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the dark so that you can catch more of the fainter meteors – this does mean that you should not look at your phone!

“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.”

Read more: Huge meteor explodes in the sky above Derby

Such shooting stars are formed when pieces break off comets in the heat of the sun.

If the debris ends up in Earth’s atmosphere, it can slam into our atmosphere, creating shooting stars visible from the ground.

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