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What Time Is The Perseid Meteor Shower Tonight?

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What Time Is The Perseid Meteor Shower Tonight?

Tonight, the skies will be filled with shooting stars as the Perseid meteor shower takes place.

It's the event of the year for astronomy buffs and it'll be visible in UK skies later this evening.

What is the Perseid meteor shower?

The Royal Observatory says the Perseid meteor shower is "one of the most dramatic things to see in the night sky between July and August," due to its "high hourly rate and bold meteors."

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In the right conditions, up to 50 meteors can be spotted per hour.

A shooting star from the Perseid meteor shower over Croatia captured on 12th August 2021. (Credit: PA)
A shooting star from the Perseid meteor shower over Croatia captured on 12th August 2021. (Credit: PA)

Meteors are pieces of rock and debris which collide with Earth's atmosphere at a high speed (around 60km per second), generating a lot of heat as the outer layers of Earth's atmosphere disintegrates them. This is what causes meteors to glow, and why they're known as shooting stars.

The Perseid meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus, which is where the meteors are thought to have originated from.

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Perseid meteor shower peak time in the UK

The Perseid meteor shower actually happens over a number of days at this time of year. But there is a peak time, which is when it's most visible.

In 2021, the Perseid meteor shower will peak on the evening of 11th August until the early hours of 12th August.

The best time to view the meteor shower is at around 3am BST on Friday 12th August, due to a number of factors including the Earth's position in the sky and the levels of darkness at that time at night.

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 A meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower on 10th August 2021 in West Virginia, USA. (Credit: PA)
A meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower on 10th August 2021 in West Virginia, USA. (Credit: PA)

"On this night, the Moon will be a thin crescent setting early in the evening, so moonlight will not interfere, and there is a real advantage to being in a dark sky site away from the lights of towns and cities," said the Royal Astronomical Society.

If you're going to catch it either side of the peak time, the best time, according to the Royal Observatory, is the time leading up to the peak.

How to see the Perseid meteor shower

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You can see the meteor shower from anywhere in the UK, with it being most visible over Scotland. You don't necessarily need any special equipment like a camera or telescope, but there are a few things you can do to maximise your chances of seeing it clearly:

  • Make sure you have a clear view of the sky. The less obstacles obstructing your view, the more likely you are to spot the shooting stars.
  • Reduce light pollution. If you're looking from your window, turn off all lights which will make your view of the sky clearer. If you live in a built-up area where there are lots of street lights, try going to a local park or green space to spot the meteor shower.
  • Give your eyes time to adjust and make sure you're in position 15 minutes before the peak time of the meteors.

The weather forecast for this evening may be in your favour too, with the MET office reporting just isolated showers in the northwest of the country and "variable cloud."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: space

Laura Sanders
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