Stargazers could be treated to a glimpse of the annual Perseids meteor shower this weekend – but a full Moon on the night is set to interfere with the celestial event.
The shower can be observed on the night of Friday 12 August into the early hours of Saturday 13 August when hundreds of meteors are normally visible shooting across the sky every hour, radiating from the direction of the constellation Perseus.
Ideally, the best time to watch it is during the hours before dawn on Saturday when the full moon is relatively low, and the meteor rate peaks, according to NASA.
Every August, the Earth crosses the trail of dust left behind the Swift Tuttle comet which was last seen in 1992. Even though the comet is long gone, grains of dust from the tail of the comet enter the Earth’s atmosphere at huge speeds and burn up producing the dazzling meteor shower.
Best viewing tips
1. Find a rural area away from street lights and pollution. The National Trust has listed the best spots on its Website to go stargazing, including Stonehenge. Here is a list of some more of the best places to watch it.
Buckstones Car Park
Marsden Moor, Yorkshire
Lake District, Cumbria
Peak District, Derbyshire
Bignor Car Park
Slindon Estate, West Sussex
Holnicote Estate, Exmoor
Galloway Forest Park
Dumfries and Galloway
New Lanark Roof Garden
2. Generally higher elevations are better than observing the Perseids at lower elevations, and in open spaces like a field or golf course.
3. Look in the opposite direction to the moon and ensure an object such as a building or tree hides the moon to prevent the glare from the moonlight.
4. Allow at least 20 minutes for your eyes to become fully adapted to the dark.
5. Have patience. Meteors tend to come in bunches, with long quiet periods in between. Spend at least an hour or two watching if you want to be sure of catching as many meteors as possible.
6. The best weather conditions to watch the shower are clear skies. According to tonight’s weather forecast it will be most cloudy with rain in the south west and north west which will spread east later. Stargazers in Scotland, the home counties and the north east might be lucky enough to get clear skies for a time.
7. The best views of the Perseids are also expected in the hours before dawn when light from the full moon doesn’t obscure the spectacle as much.