The skies over Aylesbury Vale will be littered with shooting stars this week during the annual Perseids meteor shower, with the skies set to be mostly clear during the middle of the week.
The meteors, created as space debris from the tail of the 109P/Swift-Tuttle comet strikes the Earth’s atmosphere, are visible now, and will remain most visible until Thursday, August 14, when heavy rain is forecast for the south.
They could lead to a spectacle of up to 100 meteors darting across the sky every hour during the peak, which this year falls tomorrow morning (Wednesday).
The Earth Sky website states: “On a dark, moonless night, you can often see 50 or more meteors per hour from northerly latitudes, and from southerly latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps about one-third that many meteors.
“Fortunately, in 2015, the waning crescent moon comes up shortly before sunrise, so you’re guaranteed of dark skies for this year’s Perseid meteor shower.”
What are the Perseids?
The Perseids are named after the constellation, Perseus, due to the direction in which the shower appears to stem from.
The meteor shower falls from and is in line with Perseus in the north-eastern point of the sky.
How to watch meteors advice from MeteorWatch.org:
Find an area outside which has a wide view of the sky and away from bright lights to improve your chances of seeing more meteors.
Allow a few minutes for your eyes to adapt to the dark; you will then be able to see the fainter meteors which are more common.
Dress warmly, because in the middle of the night and early hours of the morning, it can be quite cold. Lie on the ground on a rug, with a sleeping bag or blanket, or sit on a reclining garden chair so you can spend as much time as possible looking up without craning your neck.
Standing and looking up for long periods can be uncomfortable and will reduce your chances of seeing those ‘wow’ meteors. Try to keep your gaze on the sky for as long as possible, many people have missed that perfect meteor when they looked away. You will also see aircraft and satellites!
More on observing the night sky at meteorwatch.org.