How to see the Perseid meteor shower this week and when it should peak in August 2021
A meteor shower dubbed 'the best of the year' is set to light up the skies this week.
With the right conditions, the Perseid shower will treat skygazers to a dazzling lights display on Thursday evening. Here's all you need to know about catching a glimpse:
What is the Perseid meteor shower?
The Perseid meteor shower is caused by Earth passing through debris in the sky that has been left behind by a comet.
The event has in fact already begun, with some skygazers noticing activity from the end of July. But the shower is expected to peak on Thursday evening (August 12) and into the early hours of Friday, August 13 when it is hoped you'll be treated to the best view.
What to look for
Perseids will appear like short bursts of flashing light as tiny bits of material from the comet in its orbit meet the Earth's atmosphere at rapid speed.
Most of the comet's rubble, say experts at Space.com, will be no larger than a grain of sand. Any larger particles. the size of peas or small pebbles, could create an effect similar to that of a shooting star but are expected to be less frequent.
Experts from the Royal Astronomical Society say, with the right conditions, observers could potentially see up to 50 or 60 in an hour on Thursday night. This meteor shower is described as the 'best of the year' because it can be one of the brightest and most active.
Will it be easy to see?
This meteor shower is often a popular event for budding astronomers because of the ease with which it can usually be seen without the need for high-tech equipment. No in-depth knowledge of constellations is required either to make things even more straightforward.
But a first-class display will also need favourable weather conditions to give those watching from Earth the best view.
A cloud-free sky would help meteor seekers have the best view of the shower so now is the time to cross your fingers for good weather!
A dark sky will also help, so if you can, watch from somewhere that doesn't experience a lot of light pollution. And thirdly - aim for a wide open space - the more sky that you have visible from where you're stood, the greater chance you'll have of seeing the meteors streak across the sky above you.
If you miss it...
This spectacular natural fireworks display is unlikely to be a one-night only affair. Even if you miss the expected peak, particularly if the weather is poor, don't be afraid to look up again on the following night.
The shower is likely to continue across the Northern Hemisphere for a few days after Thursday, possibly as far ahead as August 18, so there could be another opportunity in the days after if Thursday turns out to be disappointing.