This year Astronomy Ireland is to take part in a Nationwide Perseid Watch, where you simply count the number of meteors - or shooting stars - you see. No special equipment is needed, and you can look anywhere in the sky!.
Make sure you sign up to the Friends of Astronomy Ireland email list to get all the latest reports about the Perseids and other astronomical events.
The Perseids have been observed for around 2000 years, and are the result of Earth passing through a cloud of dust left behind Comet Swift-Tuttle. As Earth moves through this cloud, the particles fall into our atmosphere and burn up, creating spectacular streaks of light in the sky, known as meteors or shooting stars. This shower is named after the constellation Perseus, from which the meteors appear to come from in the sky. If you trace back the path of a Perseid, you will find that it appears to come from a point in the north east, maybe halfway between the horizon and the zenith (the point straight above your head).
To take part in the Nationwide Perseid Watch, simply go outside and look up! We want you to count meteors every night that you can for one week before the peak and one week after - from August 5th to 19th. Count how many meteors you see every 15 minutes (if possible, start on the hour or quarter past the hour), and note it down. Then email us your report with your name, location, and the night you observed. For example, a normal report would be as follows:
Name: Joe Bloggs
Location: Kinsale, Co. Cork
Night: Thursday night and Friday morning
11:30 - 11:45: 12 meteors
11:45 - 00:00: 8 meteors
00:00 - 00:15: 17 meteors
Email your meteor report to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, the best night to watch is the night of Thursday, August 12th, but you can observe on any night around this date. You also do not need a telescope or any special equipment to view the Perseids.
All those who submit a report to us will get our final report on the meteor shower, as well as receive a special download featuring the Sky Diary pages of the next issue of Astronomy & Space, free of charge!
Even if you don't see any meteors, make sure you sign up to the Friends of Astronomy Ireland email list to keep up to date with all our news and events.