Don't Miss the Meteor Shower of the Decade
Each year, in mid-August, the Earth passes through the debris left behind by Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. The debris hits our atmosphere at roughly 130,000 miles per hour, bursting into flames and giving us a spectacular light show known as the Perseid Meteor Shower.
The Perseid shower is at its height between 11-14th August: this peak usually brings around 100/hour. As the moon is setting at around 1am at the moment, the sky should be nicely dark, providing the perfect backdrop for a wonderful view. Of course, terrestrial light is a far greater cause of light pollution, so for the best views, it's necessary to get out of the city and into the countryside.
Those in the Northern Hemisphere - and with a clear sky! - should be able to spot a meteor or two by simply looking up, but for the best views, locate the constellation 'Perseus'. Perseus can be found to the left of Andromeda and below Cassiopeia. Within this constellation is a point called the 'Radiant', from which all of the Perseid meteors will appear to emanate.
Why is this year special?
This year, astronomers forecast an 'outburst' during the Perseid shower. This is because the gravity of Jupiter affects the trail of particles known as the 'meteor stream', occasionally bringing them closer to Earth. This year, Jupiter's influence has moved the 1079, 1479 and 1862 meteor streams closer to the Earth, causing forecasters to predict more than double the usual rates of meteors.
If you can't get make it out of the city to catch a glimpse, NASA are live-streaming the whole meteor shower: check out the live feed below:
Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream