Perseid meteor shower 2018: NASA says display will be visible in UK thanks to moon

The Perseid meteor shower will peak this weekend between the night of Saturday, August 11, and the morning of Monday, August 13.

It’s one of the brightest and most active meteor showers in the lunar calendar – and stargazers have a chance to witness between 60 or 70 meteors every hour. 

This year the display is set to be even more spectacular because the Moon won’t be spoiling the view.

When this year’s show peaks on the nights of August 11 and 12, the Moon will be in its crescent-shape “new moon” phase, meaning it will have set long before the meteors start appearing. 

“The moon is very favourable for the Perseids this year, and that’ll make the Perseids probably the best shower of 2018 for people who want to go out and view it,” Bill Cooke, a meteor expert from NASA told Space.com. 


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STUNNING: The Perseid meteor shower will peak this weekend

Obviously, not having the Moon around will give you a much better chance of spotting the meteors, which come from fragments left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. 

The Earth passes through this debris every August during its orbit and results in the awesome night-time spectacle.

To be in with the best chance of seeing some meteors, you need to wait until it’s properly dark. 

Experts suggest that midnight onwards is the best time to start looking. 

Thankfully for UK watchers, this particular meteor shower favours the northern hemisphere – so we’re in a prime spot to witness it.


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SHOWER: The most dramatic display of the year is taking place this weekend

And you don’t need any kind of specialist equipment to watch the phenomenon. 

You can enjoy the celestial spectacle with just the naked eye.

At its peak, you can expect to see between 60 and 70 meteors every hour, which works out to roughly one a minute. 

They’ll appear as quick streaks of light across the sky. 

Occasionally you might see brighter ones as larger chunks of rock burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere. 


“The moon is very favourable for the Perseids this year”


NASA

Each meteor is travelling an estimated 59km (37 miles) per second. 

The Perseids meteor shower is the result of the Earth’s orbit taking it through the debris left by the Comet Swift-Tuttle – which is the largest object known to repeatedly pass by our planet. 

The comet measures around 26 kilometres (16 miles) wide and last passed Earth back in 1992. It won’t pass close again until 2126. 

Even though the comet itself doesn’t come close that often, the trail of cosmic debris it leaves in its path causes the Perseids meteor shower every autumn. 

The meteor shower gets its name from the fact that the debris appears to come from the constellation known as Perseus. 

With the favourable viewing conditions this year, you won’t want to miss it.

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