The Perseid meteor shower is the best opportunity for stargazers in the northern hemisphere to witness a shooting star show in comfortable conditions. The Perseids can involve up to 100 meteors flashing past every hour. And although a bright Moon this week will slightly spoil the show, the Perseids will still put on an impressive performance for patient stargazers – weather permitting.
What direction are the Perseids coming from?
The radiant point for the Perseids is the constellation of Perseus.
The constellation is rising in the northeastern night sky come nightfall in the middle of the month.
However, stargazers should avoid the error of staring at Perseus during this time.
This is because tonight’s shooting stars can appear at any time of night and in any part of the sky.
It is only Perseids’ trails that can be traced back to this constellation.
And remember, the Perseids do not actually reside in Perseus, only in that area of the heavens.
READ MORE: Meteor news: Shock video shows eerie green fireball hurtle through sky
Perseid meteor shower: The Perseids are one of the year’s most reliable and well-known meteor shower
The Perseids can involve up to 100 meteors flashing past every hour
How to watch the 2020 Perseid meteor shower:
Stargazers who wish to watch the meteors at night should visit somewhere quiet and dark to best experience the shooting star spectacle.
Astronomers recommend avoiding bright city lights and stargazers should instead head for somewhere with unobstructed views of the sky.
The next step is to allow some time for your eyes to adjust to the dark.
This is easily achieved by lying down to absorb as much of the dark sky as possible.
Meteors will eventually become apparent as they fire out in all directions from the Perseus constellation.
The radiant point for the Perseids is the constellation of Perseus
What time is the Perseid meteor shower?
Astronomers this year have forecast the Perseid meteor shower will result in shooting stars between July 17 and August 24.
The ideal time to watch the shower at its peak, when up to 100 meteors an hour will illuminate the night sky is tonight, Tuesday, August 11.
Meteor showers are usually best seen between midnight and the early hours before dawn.
This is when the skies are darkest and – weather permitting – viewing conditions are best.
Astronomy experts, therefore, suggest stargazers keep their eyes peeled for the Perseids between midnight and 5.30am tomorrow.
Stephen Hawking’s ‘black hole time machine’ proposal to NASA [REVEALED]
Stonehenge breakthrough: Julius Caesar letter exposes ‘secret’ [VIDEO
Antarctica discovery: Century-old letter reveals shock find [PICTURES]
What is a meteor shower?
A meteor shower is when our planet’s orbit around the Sun takes it through a stream of dust and cosmic debris – meteoroids.
These have been left in the inner solar system by a comet.
Most of these comets do not leave much cosmic material for Earth to encounter.
However, when a giant comet does cross our planet’s path, it can leave its mark.
In the case of tonight’s Perseids, the culprit is a giant comet called 109P/Swift-Tuttle.
This comet last arrived in the Solar System in 1992 and the dirty snowball will return in 2126.
Perseid meteor shower: The constellation is rising in the northeastern night sky come nightfall
When will the next meteor shower arrive?
Once the Perseids are over, the next meteor shower is the Orionids.
The Orionids are the result of Halley’s Comet, which was last seen in the solar system in 1986.
The Orionids will be active from October 2 through November 7, peaking on October 20 to 21.
These coincide when the Moon is only 23 percent illuminated.
Stargazers can expect approximately 20 meteors per hour.