Stargazers rejoice as Perseid display to peak this weekend

7 Aug 2015

Long-exposure of Perseid star trails over Mt Shasta, California

Every August, the northern hemisphere is treated to one of the most spectacular sights in the night sky – the Perseid meteor shower.

The Perseids, one of the brightest meteor showers of the year, is made up of debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle and appears in the north-east of the sky.

The Perseids’ peak usually falls between 9 and 13 August, so this weekend should see the start of its most dazzling moments, with up to 60 to 100 meteors visible in any given hour.

While the Perseids are visible from mid-July, they reach their peak in August, making this the prime time to go stargazing.

The meteors get their name from the constellation Perseus, appearing to originate from its vicinity of the sky.

Astronomers recommend viewing the Perseids when the sky is darkest, in the hours just before dawn.

While in previous years the moon has made viewing the Perseids difficult, 2015’s showers will coincide with a new moon, giving you nothing but clear skies.

Unless it’s cloudy, of course.

A number of sources offer advice on how best to view meteor showers, though it seems to come down to three simple things: wait for cloudless skies, leave the city and be prepared to wait.

Happy stargazing!

Main image, via Shutterstock

Kirsty Tobin was careers editor at Silicon Republic