The Perseids, one of the best meteor showers of the year, coincide with a young Moon in 2018, only 2 days old, so conditions are very favourable. The shower reaches its peak on the night of August 12-13 but some will be visible each night from 23 July to 20 August.

At its peak the shower is expected to produce a Zenith Hourly Rate (ZHR) of about 80 meteors per hour. From Edinburgh the radiant of the shower will be 38° above the NE horizon at midnight. This means we may be able to see around 50 meteors per hour, since the radiant will be relatively high in the sky. The radiant is the point in the sky that the meteors appear to come from, which in this case is in the constellation of Perseus.

To view meteors don’t look directly at the radiant itself but at about 30–40° away from it, then meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

Meteor showers happen when we pass through the debris left behind by comets and asteroids. The comet responsible for the Perseid shower is 109P/Swift–Tuttle and we pass through this cloud every year in Jul-Aug. When these tiny objects hit our atmosphere they burn up and appear as “shooting stars”.

See Alan Pickup’s Sky Diary for more.

Some useful times on 13 August 2018

Sunrise: 05:38
Sunset: 20:54
Twilight ends: 00:17
Twilight begins: 02:23

Mark Phillips

Information source: Dominic Ford