Perseids meteor shower to light up the night sky - here's when and how you can see it

Perseid meteor by Anthony King
Perseid meteor by Anthony King
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One of the most amazing meteorological phenomenon will light up our skies next week.

The Perseid meteor shower is due to peak during the night of August 12, with up to 100 meteors visible per hour. There will also be good rates either side of the peak shower.

This year the display is set to be even more spectacular because the moon won’t be spoiling the view.

The meteors will appear as bright streaks of light that shoot across the sky so fast you can blink and miss them.

Commonly known as shooting stars, they can sometimes turn into bright fireballs lasting up to a few seconds.

The Perseid meteor shower is the most famous of all the meteor showers, and their frequency and visibility mean even those with no experience of stargazing have the chance to see them with the naked eye.

The Perseids are already underway, though with lesser frequency than at their peak.

What are the Perseids?

The Perseid meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus, as the flashes appear to originate from the constellation.

They meteors tend to be brighter than most that appear in our skies, so the shower is ideal for anyone wishing to see their first "shooting star".

The meteor shower is a result of debris falling from the tail of the Comet Swift-Tuttle bursting into Earth’s atmosphere. The comet has an orbital period of about 130 years, and the meteors are small particles, some as small as a grain of sand, entering the Earth’s upper atmosphere at around 130,000mph.

The best weather conditions to see the Perseids are clear, cloudless skies. Late evening and into the hours before dawn are the best times to see the meteor shower, however you will see some in the early evening.

How can I see them?

To see the meteor shower, you don’t need a telescope, binoculars or any other equipment. It's best to the weather forecast in advance via as the clearer the skies, the more you'll see - and if there's heavy cloud, you'll struggle.

Find a spot away from bright lights and allow time for your eyes to get used to the dark. This usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes - so get comfortable.

If you're out at night, even in August, the temperature can get quite chilly, so dress accordingly and take extra warm layers even if it doesn't feel cold when you head out.

It's easy to get cold if you're waiting around. Sleeping bags, blankets and food and drink supplies can all help make for a more comfortable experience while you're out searching for shooting stars.

The meteors appear randomly everywhere in the sky, so you do not need to look in any particular direction as meteors appear randomly anywhere in the sky - just keep looking up, filling your gaze with as much of the sky as possible for as long as you can.

It may take a little while before you see one, and it's easy to look away and miss one!