Perseids meteor shower 2018: How, when and where to watch this celestial showstopper

The Perseids meteor shower – one of the best cosmic spectacles of the year – is coming this weekend. With some luck, you should be able to catch a glimpse of the shooting stars yourself. And, with NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke dubbing the Perseids “the best shower of the year”, this certainly isn’t one to miss.

We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the Perseids meteor shower, including how and where to watch them. Read on for our guide to the shooting stars of the summer.

Perseids meteor shower 2018: What is it?

The Perseids meteor shower is basically a mass of shooting stars, which light up the skies for avid stargazers below each year. It manifests as bright streaks of light shooting across the sky but if you blink, they’re gone – literally.

What you can expect to see if you’re in an optimum viewing spot (read: anywhere devoid of light pollution) is around 60 or 70 meteors streaking through the sky every hour.

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However, in outburst years – such as in 2016 – stargazers are able to see in the region of 150 to 200 meteors an hour, making for a celestial showstopper.

Perseids meteor shower 2018: When is it?

The Perseids meteor shower occurs around mid-August. The best time for viewing will fall on the nights between 11 August and 13 August, although the evening of 12 August will optimal, with experts suggesting that up to 100 meteors per hour will be visible.

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The best time to view the Perseids is around midnight and during the early hours of the morning – up until 5.30am – when light pollution is at its lowest.

Perseids meteor shower 2018: Where and how to watch

If you want to catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower, then it’s worth finding a dark location; light pollution will inhibit your view of the meteor shower. That means staying away from urban areas if possible, as light pollution can dominate in cities.

Plus, it’s good to give your eyes time to adjust; your peepers can take around 15 to 20 minutes to get used to the dark. If you’re serious about your stargazing, allow ample time for this beforehand.

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Meanwhile, the best place to view the Perseids meteor shower is in the Northern Hemisphere, so viewers in the UK and US should be golden.

And while some are planning to camp out under the stars, others are content just to gaze upwards at the mesmerising display. Our advice? Bring a rug, a flask of tea (or, you know, whiskey – pick your poison) and some insect repellent, and get gazing.

Images: U.S. Department of Agriculture; Steve Ryan, used under Creative Commons 

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