Belfast Telegraph

Perseid meteor shower: moon and International Space Station line up to make yearly show even more beautiful

The moon and the International Space Station are lining up to make this year’s Perseids meteor shower even more stunning than usual.

The moon is planning to get out of the way, since it will be in its new phase and at its darkest. That will let people see yet more of the lights as they rain across the sky.

And those lights will be helped out by a man-made one: the International Space Station, which will fly over the UK at about 10.30pm on Wednesday, just when the show is at its brightest.

Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: "The thing about shooting stars is they're a wonderful free spectacle we can all enjoy, assuming clear skies.

"Its best to watch them from the countryside but even in town, these meteors are bright enough for a few to be visible.

"The moon is out of the way which makes a lot of difference because the sky will be much darker all night. For every bright shooting star you see there are always fainter ones, and this will make it easier to see the fainter meteors and ring up the numbers.

"The Perseids are usually fairly bright. Also, they tend to leave a trail, or train, behind them. You can see the train hanging there glowing in the sky for a few seconds - sometimes for several minutes - after the meteor has gone."

He urged people to keep a special eye out for the International Space Station, which can be seen passing over the UK at around 10.30pm on Wednesday.

"It will move from the west below the bright star Arcturus and then move towards the south, fading out as it passes into the Earth's shadow at 10.32pm," said Mr Scagell. "And it will be the brightest thing in the sky, apart from aircraft. It'll be in mid sky from southern England and quite low in the sky from northern Scotland but still visible."

Kenneth Mc Donagh from the Donegal Weather Channel said: "Over the next few nights also there will be loads of meteorites in the sky so make sure to check them out and if you have a camera get snapping because the Perseid shower also has the best chances of big fireballs.

"If you look to the northern Skyline at the north star (Polaris) or just east of it you should some very nice meteorites."

Meteors are the result of particles as small as a grain of sand entering the Earth's atmosphere at high speed and burning up.

They can appear anywhere but seem to emerge from a single point, or "radiant". The Perseid's radiant is in the north-east constellation of Perseus.


Independent News Service