News Worms
News Worms


Best viewing for Perseid meteor shower should be this weekend

Best viewing for Perseid meteor shower should be this weekend

Rumors have been flying around online that we're set for "the brightest shower in recorded human history".

The shower will be best seen from the Northern Hemisphere, so the United Kingdom is in for a show if you look to the north-eastern part of the sky.

But the presence of the moon might have a similar effect. In a dark sky the shower may produce as many as 150 visible meteors per hour, but this time moonlight will wash out the fainter ones, says Hal Kibbey is a retired science writer for Indiana University and an amateur astronomer. A meteors shower is a spike in the number of meteors or "shooting stars" that streak through the night sky.

This year, the meteors will peak on Saturday August 12. However, this winter, a particularly bright moon might steal a little of the limelight. Saturday evening's rain chances are also 20 percent. Under the best conditions, a meteor shower looks like a ton of shooting stars going off at the same time, but watching a meteor shower with an almost-full moon is like trying to see the stars in New York City.

The Moon will be more than half-full, in a so-called gibbous phase, which means its light will spoil stargazers' view in a similar way to that of urban light pollution.

For the best experience, visit a remote or quiet area to catch a glimpse of the meteors.

What are the Perseids anyway? In the case of the Perseids, Comet Swift-Tuttle is the origin of the display.

Last year, there was an unusual "outburst" with more than double the usual fireball activity as Earth passed through especially dense "ribbons" of debris within the comet's dust belt.

"To be honest, it's not a good year" for the Perseids, said Robert Massey, acting executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in London. When the shower is at its height and most visible from Earth, it appears to originate from the constellation of Perseus, a hero in Greek mythology for killing Medusa.

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