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Sky at night

In need of a wish? This week is your best chance of catching a shooting star

The annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak this week.

my meteor3 Republic of Astronomy Republic of Astronomy

IF LAST NIGHT’S supermoon whetted your appetite for all things astronomical the Perseid meteor shower that peaks over the next few days should get you over your space craving.

The Persieds are an annual event where eagle-eyed stargazers see can between 60 to 100 meteors an hour.

They are caused by tiny space debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle and although the specks are tiny, the speed at which they burn up in our atmosphere can lead the ‘shooting star’ effect.

“They can be as small as a grain of sand or up to a small pebble that burn up in our atmosphere and are known to travel at speeds of around 130,000 mph,” explains Anthony Lynch of Republic of Astronomy.

Most are observed as a bright streak across the sky that can last for several seconds but occasionally a large fragment can explode into a multi-coloured fireball. They are known for being red, green, yellow and white.

Because of yesterday’s full moon the night sky will be brighter than your average evening, so some of the smaller meteors might be difficult to spot.

The Perseid shower happens about this time every year and will be at its strongest between 10-13 August, with peak activity expected tomorrow evening.

But it’s impossible to know exactly how often the meteors will be seen on any given day so it’s well worth looking this evening. David Moore of Astronomy Ireland says that, “although the shower peaks on Tuesday, activity builds every night for a week before, and declines for the week after.”

Google Doodle 

Even Google decided to get in on the Perseid action by dedicating today’s Google Doodle to the event.

perseid google doodle

PICS: The ‘super moon’ over Ireland >

Read: You think the supermoon looks cool out your window? Check it out from ISS >

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