Perseid Meteor Shower 2017: When and how to watch it

  • 28 July 2017
Time exposure photograph of polar stars during a meteor shower Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Time exposure photograph of polar stars during a meteor shower

Stargazers are getting ready to enjoy the spectacular Perseid Meteor Shower.

Hundreds of meteors will streak across the sky in the beautiful natural firework show, visible around the world.

The shower peaks in mid August but a full moon on August 7th means that this weekend may be the best time to see the natural wonder.

And it's not just the Perseid, two other meteor showers will be visible this weekend also.

The Alpha Capricornids Shower will peak tonight and then hang around a few more nights, and the Southern Delta Aquariids showers will peak Saturday and Sunday.

What causes the Perseid meteor shower?

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How to watch the Perseid meteor shower

The Perseids are actually tiny pieces of the Swift-Tuttle comet that can be seen every year when the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet's debris.

They're bits of ice and dust, which can be as small as a grain of sand or as big as a pea.

The fragments were left behind whenever Swift-Tuttle passed close to Earth - the last time was in 1992.

Image copyright Philip Asher
Image caption This picture was taken during last year's Perseid meteor shower over the Brecon Beacons in Wales

The meteors appear to come from a point in the constellation of Perseus, hence the name Perseid.

They hit the Earth's atmosphere at a whopping speed of 134,000 mph, but don't pose any danger to us on Earth.

When and how can I see it?

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Alex Deakin looks at the best places for viewing the meteor shower

The celestial show is expected to hit its peak overnight between 11-12 August but you can see it any night until then starting tonight.

Unlike some other cosmic events, spectators don't need special technology to watch the Perseids unfold.

It's best to find a wide open space away from tall buildings or trees, and with as little light as possible.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Up to 200 shooting meteors per hour will streak across the sky

The more of the sky you can see, the better.

This year's shower could see 200 meteors an hour become visible in the night's sky, in an event known as an "outburst".

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