2015 Perseid meteor shower: What is it, where can I see it, when's the best time and place to view it and what is all the fuss about

 
Catherine Neilan
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Perseids only come out at night (Source: Getty)
We're smack-bang in the middle of the annual Perseid meteor shower, and everyone from professional astronomers to amateur stargazers is getting excited about them. But what's the fuss all about? This is everything you need to know.

When is the best time to view the 2015 Perseid meteor shower?

The shower is at its peak stage right now, meaning the next three nights (11-14 August) will be the best time to spot this natural phenomenon. Obviously the best time to view the Perseids is when the sky is the darkest. Depending on the Moon’s phase, that could mean the best time of day is shortly before dawn.
Experts say the best time will be from 11pm on 12 August until the early hours of 13 August.

How can I watch the Perseid meteor shower?


Members of the York Astronomical Society prepare to view the annual Perseids meteor shower (Source: Getty)

You will be able to see the event with the naked eye – if possible get away from artificial light and settle down for hours of free entertainment – you should be able to see at least one every few minutes. But you might need some caffeine to keep you up throughout the night.

Where is the best place to watch the Perseid meteor shower?

The shower can only be seen from the northern hemisphere, and given the need for darkness experts are recommending that you get a 30-minute drive from the city. According to the Met Office, Londoners only have a "slight chance" of seeing the shower but there is a good chance of seeing it in North Wales and across a large swathe of the Midlands and the North.

What is the Perseid meteor shower?

It's an annual event that takes place between 17 July and 24 August each year. The Perseids are pieces of the Comet Swift Tuttle, which were shed man years ago, and are now simply a “river of rubble” that follows the comet's orbit around the Sun. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33850710 ;
The meteor shower takes its name from the constellation Perseus because the shower appears to come from the direction of that constellation in the north-eastern part of the sky.


One Perseid born every minute (Source: Getty)

What makes the Perseid meteor shower so special?

Although it's just one of several meteor showers, the Perseid phenomenon gets astronomers particularly excited because of its size: at its peak, you can expect to see between 60 and 100 meteors an hour (if you're lucky).
And it's bigger than usual this year because for the first time since 2007, the shower will coincide with a new moon, meaning it should be a better show than usual.

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