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A Perseid shower seen from Spain last night Paul White/AP/Press Association Images
Falling from the Sky

All eyes on the sky – meteor shower to fall over Ireland

Astronomy Ireland is asking for people to chart the number of meteors they see, as the brightest shower of the year becomes visible tonight.

Update 21.52

THE SKIES OVER Ireland will be lit up this evening as the powerful annual Perseid meteor shower passes overhead.

The shower will be visible from across the Northern Hemisphere and is caused by debris coming from the comet Swift-Tuttle. Every year, the Earth passes through the field of debris and, as the fragments of comet crash into our atmosphere, shooting stars are created.

Conor Farrell of Astronomy Ireland says that everyone can join in the viewing, with no equipment necessary.

“You don’t need a telescope, you don’t need binoculars, you can just look up,” says Farrell.

The brightest flashes of light will come from fireballs, the brightest types of meteors. Fireballs are rare though –  only two have been found in Ireland.

One thing that Farrell is keen to point out is that there is no danger in the meteor shower and sky scanners face virtually no danger of being hit by falling debris.

“What people are seeing is something of an optical illusion. While they look close to the meteors, they’re actually about 150 or 200 kilometres away.

“So people definitely shouldn’t try to chase meteors and they definitely shouldn’t panic. By the time the debris hits the Earth’s atmosphere, the thicker air slows it down completely or burns it up.”

There are a few meteor showers visible in Ireland each year, the Perseids event is the brightest and comes at a good time of the month.

“There is no bright moon tonight to cause night pollution.

“If people do live in bright areas, they can drive to their nearest parkland and watch.”

Astronomy Ireland are also asking people to report the number of meteors they spot on their website.

First published 14.30

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Pic: The Northern Lights captured in Donegal

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