Perseid meteor shower 2018:
everything you need to know to enjoy this stargazing August
Thousands of people will watch the Perseids in August. Perhaps the most popular meteor shower of the year.
The nights are warm, the skies are clear which makes it the best stargazing experience of the year.
Made of tiny space debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus as the shower seems to come in the sky in the same direction as the constellation Perseus. The meteors are pieces of the tail of the comet heating up as they enter Earth’s atmosphere with a whopping speed of 134,000 mph (210kmh) where they burn. As the comet reaches of the solar system from the outer space, its ices vaporise, and it releases debris ranging in size from sand grains to huge stones. This debris gets spread along the comet’s orbital path in such a way that our planet crosses the debris field every year creating an amazing show of shooting stars.
The Origins of Observation
Despite their Greek name, the earliest known record of the Perseids appears in ancient Chinese texts, which mention views of over a hundred meteors an hour as far back as A.D. 36. Then reported sightings continued throughout the centuries in many other cultures across the world. But astronomers didn’t recognise the link between the August shooting stars and comets until the late 1800s.
When is the best the time to watch the Perseids shower?
The Perseids will appear in the night sky between July 17 and August 24 as Earth passes the path of Comet Swift-Tuttle. It will be at its best from August 12 to 13 when as many as 90 meteors an hour will burn through our sky. The dark new moon arrives on August 11, only two days before the Perseids peak and that means the best part of the shower will coincide with just a thin crescent moon, which will set very soon after darkness falls. Hopefully the weather will not disappoint us and we will have the full view.
Save the date of the 12th of August, the shower will reach its peak when the Earth drifts through the densest and the dustiest part of Swift-Tuttle’s trail with up to 120 shooting stars per hour. If you are lucky enough to have clear skies you will have an unforgettable show. Meteors will be visible even under bright suburban skies, but you can expect to see only a quarter to half as many shooting stars.
Where best to watch the Perseids showers?
Sky amateurs located in the Northern Hemisphere will have the best view of the night-time show. When going out to watch the shower, remember that it is better to stay away from urban lights in order to find complete darkness and hopefully the night will offer you a clear sky for the best visibility. Patience is the key to spotting the shooting stars, your eyes will take between 20 to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness, so that after you will see better. It is important to remember that the meteors will fly in all directions but they will all burst from a single point in front of the Perseus constellation.
What do you need to see them?
The key to seeing a meteor shower is to have a dark and clear night sky away from the urban lights. Unlike some other cosmic events, you don’t need any special technology or equipment to watch the Perseids. You will need only a good mood, a warm blanket, and romance around. And if you happen to be in the United Kingdom on the 12th of August we prepared a list of the best stargazing places in the UK.
How to take a photo of the Perseids?
All you need is a tripod-mounted digital SLR camera that can take long exposures of 15 seconds or more and a lot of your patience.
Using a wide lens will allow you capturing as much of the sky as possible, and set your camera to ISO 400 to pick up fainter shooting stars if you are in a quite dark location.
As a conclusion meteor shower watching is actually one of the best cosmic romantic ideas and it’s the stargazing date of the year. And don’t forget to name a star for your love.
Choose our name a star gifts
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