Thursday 11 August 2016
The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak tonight and could be a spectacular sight, with up to 200 shooting stars per hour on view if conditions are clear.
Experts are predicting that the shower could be one of the best in years. The moon will set after midnight, allowing even faint meteors to be seen in parts of the country with dark skies. The Earth may also pass through a particularly dense section of the dust particles that form the meteors. The dust has been left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. When the Earth passes through the dust cloud, the grains burn up in our atmosphere, giving a bright flash of light that we see as a shooting star.
The Chilterns countryside is a good place to find a viewing point for this natural spectacle. Find a spot away from light pollution, and tall trees, and look to the northeast. You'll need to be a night owl because the best time will be the early hours of Friday morning.
If you don't get to spot the meteor shower tonight then there is the chance to try again over the next few days.