Photo: Guardian Design

The main meteor shower of the year has arrived for lovers of the northern sky. The annual Perseid meteor shower lasts for more than five weeks, starting on July 17 and ending on August 24, but it peaks on the night of August 12-13.

Under pristine observing conditions, this reliable meteor shower can reach a peak rate of 60 to 100 visible meteors per hour. This year, however, the full moon will wash away many of the weaker meteors. The Perseids themselves are dust particles that were once part of the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun every 133 years. Now they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at about 130,000 miles per hour and burn up high above the surface of our planet.

The chart shows the view looking northeast from London at midnight, when August 12 becomes August 13. Meteors will emanate in all directions from the radiant point. A garden chair may come in handy when setting up on the meteor, and don’t forget to bring a warm coat. Unfortunately, the shower gets harder to see the further south you are. From Sydney, Australia, for example, you’d be lucky to see anything.

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