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night sky shooting star science Astronomy nasa alert meteor shower perseids stargazing Meteors stargazing event

The annual Perseid meteor shower is my favourite and the most famous stargazing event during the summer. It puts on a great show this week as you can see 60 or more “shooting stars” per hour! The meteor shower lasts until late August but as Phil Plait said the best time to watch is Wednesday night after local midnight - that’s when your part of the Earth is facing into the oncoming meteoroids and you see more.

Here are some general tips which make stargazing better:

  • Give your eyes 20 minutes to adjust to the dark. Any exposure to bright lights will instantly ruin your eye’s acclimatization to the dark.
  • If possible go outside the city, or search for good local stargazing places
  • For the best chances of spotting a shooting star, scan the whole sky repeatedly
  • Be prepared to spend a few hours sitting outside. Meteor showers can be seen as soon as it gets dark, but better viewing begins about 11 pm
  • Here’s NASA’s visibility map from last year:
image

The meteors are bits of rocky debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle as it orbits the Sun. When Earth goes through the comet’s path, some of the bits of comet dust slam into the atmosphere.
Have further questions? You’ll probably get an answer here.


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