Perseid meteor shower to peak on August 12

A Perseid meteor flashes past Corfe Castle in August 2016

A dazzling display of shooting stars will light up Irish skies as the best meteor shower of the year takes place.

Everyone's so excited about the solar eclipse that they nearly forgot about the Perseids, a wonderful annual celestial event which will take place starting on 11 August and ending on 13 August, having a peak on 12 August. According to meteor expert Bill Cooke (who, incidentally, is on NASA's payroll), it's the most popular meteor shower of the year.

Even though pieces of the comet are actually that tiny, "they're moving so fast that they heat up and they illuminate the air around them, so that's what we see - a streak of light", Gallagher said. With up to 200 meteors recorded per hour, scientists called 2016's shower an outburst.

Bowman went on to explain that "Earth will spin through the debris just 224 days after the main mass of the Swift-Tuttle clutter swung through this part of space".

STEM educator Jeremy Benson will set up telescopes for night viewing and talk with guests about what they can expect to see and what causes a meteor shower. It may be that we've debunked that exhausted "Mars will be as big as the Moon" meme enough that the internet needed something new to go viral.

A Perseid meteor over the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank in August 2013
A Perseid meteor over the Lovell Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank in August 2013

The Perseids are so named because the meteors appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus, the Medusa-killing hero of Greek mythology.

The peak of the meteor shower happens to be on an evening when the moon will be three-quarters full, making it just a little bit more hard to see the meteors. If our planet happens to pass through an unusually dense clump of meteoroids - comet rubble - we'll see an elevated number of meteors.

The Perseids radiant, to the northeast at midnight on August 12-13, 2017.

The best place to see the Perseid meteor shower from is outside of your local city, town or village, away from sources of light pollution.

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