Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Meteor shower to light up night sky

Shooting stars are set to provide a dazzling display of celestial fireworks across the UK

Shooting stars are set to provide a dazzling display of celestial fireworks across the UK on Thursday night.

Experts said the annual Perseid meteor shower, which occurs each August, would be one of the most spectacular in recent years.

Conditions for watching the meteors were likely to be near perfect, with dark moonless nights and clear skies over much of the country.

Every August, the Earth ploughs through a swarm of dusty particles shed by passing comet Swift-Tuttle.

As the particles, each no bigger than a grain of sand, hit the atmosphere at 135,000mph they burn up, producing trails of light that shoot across the sky.

This year, the Perseid shower will peak at around 11pm, when observers in the countryside may be able to see meteors streaking overhead at a rate of one almost every half a second.

Even in light-polluted cities, where only the brightest meteors would be visible, as many as 10 an hour may be seen.

The meteor shower was expected to continue through the night, with activity still strong in the early hours of Friday.

Robin Scagell, vice president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: "The best time to see the Perseid display is after about 10.30pm on Thursday evening. You can look anywhere in the sky. Though the meteors come from the direction of the stars of Perseus in the eastern part of the sky, they can appear anywhere."

Weather forecasters MeteoGroup said clear skies were expected over much of southern and western Britain.

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