How to see this week's spectacular meteor shower
The night's sky is about to get really, really busy.
From now until around 19 August, the Earth will crash through a dense debris field - a dirty 'tail' of dust and particles left by the comet Swift-Tuttle - in an event known as the Perseids meteor shower.
An annual event, the Perseids is an ideal opportunity to catch a glimpse of fireballs and shooting stars. The night of August 12 however, is predicted to be an extra special one, as NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke told Space.com: "Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double normal rates."
An 'outburst' is just what it sounds like - a whole heap of extra shooting start activity caused by passing through a particularly dense group of space junk. "Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour," said Cooke.
Here's how to catch the best view of the stellar show.
Get away from the city lights
It’s pretty hot out in the desert, but if you’re well prepared for the conditions and bring plenty of water, this is the best place to see the meteor shower. Anywhere away from city lights always makes viewing easier.
Look in the direction of Perseus
The Perseid meteor shower is named after the constellation Perseus, which the meteors appear from. For an idea of how to spot Perseus, try downloading the Sky Map app (iOS, Android), or similar.
Your best time to view
It’s likely to be at its best between 1am until 4am on August 12.
Ditch the camera phone
Capturing the meteor shower on a camera phone will be extremely tricky, so unless you’ve got a proper digital camera with a wide angle lens, it’s best to just sit back and enjoy the show. The same goes for a telescope, which is likely to make it difficult to follow any shooting stars. When it comes to the Perseid meteor shower, you don’t need anything but the naked eye.
[Adapted from ShortList UK]