How, when and where to watch the Perseid meteor shower

The museum of natural history will organise a public viewing of the Perseids meteor shower this weekend on Saturday 12 August at 22

An outburst of Perseid meteors lights up the sky in August 2009 in this time-lapse image.

The meteor shower will peak in the morning hours between Sunday August 12 and Monday August 13.

The Perseid meteor shower is usually one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year, but that won't be the case this time around, astronomy experts say.

Earth passes through this trail every year with the debris slamming into the upper atmosphere at speeds of up to 130,000 miles an hour (210,000 km). "But the good news is that the Perseids are rich in fireballs; otherwise the moon would really mess with them".

He said the best meteor show of all time was the Leonids in 1833, when there were up to 100,000 meteors per hour.

Every Perseid meteor is a tiny piece of a comet that orbits the sun every 133 years.

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What causes the meteor shower?

Named after the Perseus constellation, the Perseid meteor shower comprises celestial debris falling from space through the Earth's atmosphere. Rising at around 11 p.m. on Friday night, and around midnight on Saturday night, the Moon will present a source of light pollution in the sky, that will washed out numerous fainter meteors.

It is expected to peak on August 12.

The particles - which can be as small as a grain of sand - meet a fiery end after roughly a thousand years, as part of the comet's dust cloud. Instead, bring along a blanket or a lawn chair, so you can sit or lie down, and look straight up in to the night sky.

If skies are clear in your area, you can find the meteor shower "radiant" - the point in the night sky where the meteors appear to originate from - by looking in the north or northeastern sky, throughout the night. The general rule when it comes to selecting your viewing spot is the darker, the better, so eagle-eyed stargazers should aim to venture away from the light pollution of towns and cities.

Make sure the place you to opt to view the display is as dark as possible.

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