Perseids Meteor Shower


Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Every year in August, the Earth passes through rock and dust fragments left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle, last time it came near the Sun. As these small particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere, they burn-up, often creating a startling streak of light across the sky. Such events result in meteor showers, and this week sees the peak of the Perseids meteor shower, so called because the shooting stars appear to emanate from the direction of the constellation Perseus.

The Perseids occur at the same time each year, and this year will reach a maximum at around 1600BST on Wednesday 12th August. Although this is in the daytime for UK observers, it will still be worthwhile having a look up on the nights of 11 and 12 August. You can expect to see up to 100 shooting stars per hour from a very dark site in ideal conditions. This year conditions aren’t ideal (the Moon is up, and will drown out the fainter meteors), and if you’re observing from a town or city the light pollution will reduce what you can see, but you can still expect to see many more meteors than normal on these nights. The best thing is you don’t need telescopes of binoculars to see the Perseid shower, your eyes will do just fine.

To celebrate this event Newbury Astronomical Society, with help from IYA2009 UK, is hosting a Twitter Meteorwatch, the first of its kind ever! Thousands of people around the world will be tweeting their images of the night sky, as well as asking and answering questions. In order to take part, you need to have a Twitter account; you can get easily at and it’s free. Once you have one, follow @NewburyAS and @astronomy2009uk to keep up to date with what’s happening. You can also search for #meteorwatch to see what everyone else is saying.

To find out more visit:

Happy meteorwatching, and see you on Twitter!


Steve Owens
International Year of Astronomy 2009
UK Co-ordinator

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