The Perseid meteor shower, one of the highpoints in the celestial calendar, occurs each year as the Earth ploughs through dusty debris left by Comet Swift-Tuttle.
While meteors from the Perseids have passed over Earth since the end of July and are expected to continue until late August, the ideal dates for viewing are between Saturday, August 11 and Monday, August 13, with the latter being the best of the three, Cooke says.
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This year's Perseid meteor shower promises to be one of the best for stargazers as a new Moon bringing darker skies means night time conditions are optimum for this potentially catastrophic cosmic event. And if you thought the video above looked lovely, you'll be pleased to know that the meteor shower will hit peak visibility tonight (12 August).
Tiny pieces of debris that are around the size of sand grains hit the earth's atmosphere at around 132,000 miles per hour, causing a fantastical meteor shower each year. But the most spectacular long-lasting meteors, known as "Earthgrazers", can be seen when the radiant is still low above the horizon. The days after the peak will also provide nice, dark skies as well! No special equipment is needed, and you can look anywhere in the sky!
The shooting stars will appear to come from a single point, or "radiant", situated in the constellation Perseus, that climbs higher as the night progresses. Meteor showers are a great opportunity for time-lapse videos and long-exposure photography, allowing your shots of the night sky to turn into van Gogh-like paintings of this starry spectacle.
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