The Perseids, one of the best meteor showers of the year, unfortunately coincides with an almost full Moon in 2019 when the shower reaches its peak on the night of August 12-13. Some will be visible each night from 23 July to 20 August.

12 day old MoonAt 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 might have been able to see around 50 meteors per hour if the Moon wasn’t so bright, since the radiant will be relatively high in the sky. You will still be able to see brighter meteors though so it’s still worth having a look. And remember, you can actually see some Perseids from as early as 23 July  all the way up to the peak.

The Moon will however be fairly low down and if you shelter yourself from it then that will help. Many Perseids are also bright fireballs which means they will still be visible even with the Moon up.

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”.

Some useful times on 13 August 2019

Sunrise: 05:38
Sunset: 20:55
Twilight ends: 00:20
Twilight begins: 02:21

Mark Phillips

Information source: Dominic Ford