Do You Want To See A Shooting Star?
My eldest son is mad about anything and everything to do with space, so tonight I have the task of watching out for the Perseid meteor shower and I have promised to wake him up if it's clear enough to see.
The Perseid meteor shower is a week long event that is at it's peak tonight and with the clear skies much of the UK has it is ideal for catching a glimpse of them.
This event is set to be one of the best for years as tonight's new moon means that the skies will not be brightened by the moon, so darker skies will mean that you will be able to see the meteors much more easily in the darker sky. Although this event is an annual one it hasn't coincided with a new moon for seven years, so with the clear skies as well this should be a spectacular show.
If you want to know lots of information on exactly what you are looking at then one of the best places to look is the European Space Agency Kids website, as it explains it really clearly but without too much technobabble for the younger ones. It also gives you plenty of tips on where to watch out for them in the night sky. If you aren't sure where to start then a free app like Google Sky Map* or something similar will show you where to look. Search for the constellation Perseus and that's where the meteors will come from.
What you do need to know if you are just looking out for a 'shooting star' with your children, or for yourself, is that the best chance is from around 11pm in parts of Northern England and Southern Scotland. (Yay! That's me!) You don't need any special equipment, no telescopes or binoculars, as you will be able to see them with the naked eye.
If you keep a look out tonight at around 10.30pm you might also be able to spot the International Space Station zooming across the night sky too! Good luck stargazers!
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