Perseid annual meteor shower puts on celestial display

Image of meteor from Perseid shower (image: Science Photo Library)

The Perseids are one of the most reliable meteor showers, appearing every August

Skygazers across parts of the planet have been treated to a celestial display of the Perseid meteor shower.

At their most intense, the meteors can be seen at a rate of one per minute, although they will still be visible until 22 August.

But the emergence of a full moon has taken the shine off this year's show for some.

The spectacle is created when the Earth passes through a field of debris left by the Swift-Tuttle comet.

The event was being broadcast live by Nasa.

"The Perseids are one of the most reliable meteor showers and normally you can expect to see at least a few tens of meteors each hour if you're observing from a dark site," explained Robert Massey, deputy executive secretary for the Royal Astronomical Society.

"This is also a great example of a free astronomical spectacle and something you can enjoy without needing any special equipment," he told BBC News.

On Friday, the International Meteor Organization (IMO) was recording an average of 25 shooting stars an hour, with the figure set to increase as the the peak period approached.

Graphic showing location of Perseid meteor shower in night sky (Image: BBC)
  • The meteors are called the Perseids because they appear to fly out of the constellation Perseus
  • The yellow dot marks the Perseid radiant. The meteors can appear in any part of the sky, but all of their tails will point back to that area
  • The best views of the meteor shower are likely to be in the Northern Hemisphere

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