Meteor shower to peak tonight

STARGAZERS hoping to catch a glimpse of the Perseids meteor shower, tonight and early tomorrow morning will probably be your best chance witness the annual event, if the clouds don't spoil the party.

Clarence Valley Astronomical Society's Steve Fletcher said the peak of the shower will be over the next three nights in the north-east of the sky, however a waxing moon will prevent fainter meteors from being visible.

The best viewing times will be from 11pm tonight until around 4.30am tomorrow morning, and up to 15 meteors might be seen per hour, but with rain predicted for the rest of tonight in the valley, it could hamper stargazing efforts.

For the best viewing experience, the Spacedex Meteor Shower Viewing Guide recommends finding an area unobstructed by a structure, far from city lights. Don't use a telescope or binoculars as they reduce the field of vision and increase the chances of missing a meteor. Look towards the north-east, about half-way up the sky.

The Perseids meteor shower is caused by the Earth passing through the trail of the Swift-Tuttle Comet, which is 26km across and the largest object to regularly pass by Earth. The shower seems to radiate from the constellation Perseus, which is where the name comes from.

Unfortunately, the Perseids meteor shower is primarily a northern hemisphere shower, where hundreds of meteors can be seen per hour. The Perseids often don't rise above the horizon in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning Australia mostly misses out on the best of the light show.

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