The Perseids meteor shower is about to light up the sky with a stunning celestial display.
The spectacle – often hailed as one of the best meteor showers there is – is caused by debris left behind from Comet Swift-Tuttle.
As that dust hits the Earth’s atmosphere, it lights up and causes a sight that can be easily seen from down on the Earth.
The Perseids are said to be among the best of Earth’s meteor showers, because there is a particularly high rate of streaking lights and it happens to arrive in the warmth of the late summer, making it more possible for people in the northern hemisphere to stay out to watch it.
But it promises to be a little complicated this year: unfortunately, there will be a full Moon that comes at the same time as the peak of the meteor shower, hogging the limelight and making it harder to see.
But there will still be plenty of fireballs streaking across the sky, despite that collision. The Perseids normally bring around 60 meteors per hour at their peak, and that will be reduced a little but not entirely.
Seeing the meteor shower is simple: just go out and look up. But you’ll need to make sure you do it right and at the best time.
The peak comes overnight on August 12 to 13. You should be able to see something if you head out any time after dark, at around 9pm local time – but you’ll get a better view if you wait until around 2am or 3am, around the same time as the Moon sets and gives you the chance to see a little more.
To give yourself the best chance of spotting them, head out to somewhere as dark as possible and start looking up. You don’t need any particular special equipment, and they appear all over the sky, so you should be able to see them straight away.
If the sky looks a little dark, then allow your eyes time to adjust by keeping them locked on the black of the night sky (and away from the bright lights of your phone). That can take up to 30 minutes, but is worth it – after it has happened, you’ll be more able to see the details of the stars.
If that proves too difficult, or you can’t see anything, then Nasa will be hosting a live stream of the Perseids too.
The Perseids get their name from the fact they look like they come out of the constellation Perseus. There may b a variety of other meteor streaks at the same time, so, if you want to be sure that you’re looking at a genuine Perseid, you can track the trail back to the constellation to check.