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See up to 42 shooting stars per hour this week!

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The Perseids meteor shower will peak later this week.

And with a little luck you can spot dozens of meteors per hour this week. The best moment for this is in the night from Wednesday to Thursday. According to Hemel.waarnemen.com, you should be able to see between 30 and 42 Perseids per hour.

Sooner or later
Is it not convenient on Thursday? No problem. In the days before and after, many meteors from this well-known meteor shower can still be seen. So go out late at night this week!

Dress warmly, find a dark spot and look to the northeast. There you will find the so-called radiant of this meteor shower: the constellation Perseus. This is the constellation where the meteors appear to be coming from. Are you unable to find this constellation? No worries; the Perseids may seem to come from this constellation, but they can be seen in a large part of the night sky – and not only in the vicinity of the radiant. So just keep looking up. Do you spot a meteor? Then follow the trail it followed and see if you end up with Perseus. If so, you’ve spotted a Perseid. If not, you have spotted a meteor that does not belong to this meteor shower.

In 2011, astronauts from the International Space Station captured this photo of a meteor during the Perseids. Image: Ron Garan / NASA.

Terrestrial
The conditions for spotting Perseids have been more favorable. For example, the moon may throw a spanner in the works this year. It is fairly lit and comes on shortly after midnight. The moonlight can then prevent the light from the weaker Perseids from being visible. Yet this week – in clear weather – you can expect to see about dozens of ‘shooting stars’ per hour.

Origin
The term ‘shooting stars’ is also a bit misleading. The flashes of light that you can see during the height of the meteor shower have nothing to do with stars. They arise when dust and debris particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere, compressing and glowing the air in front of them. The light flash that is so characteristic of meteors is created from the earth’s surface. The fact that many of these flashes of light can be seen every August is thanks to Comet Swift-Tuttle. This comet has left a lot of dust and debris in its orbit, and in August, Earth moves through this comet’s orbit, creating the Perseid meteor shower.

About the comet
Swift-Tuttle was discovered in 1862 and takes about 133 years to complete a circle around the sun. The last time the comet visited the interior of our solar system was in 1992. At 26 kilometers in size, the comet is quite large.

For those who want to go out this week to spot the Perseids, we have a number of important tips. For example, it is sensible to dress yourself warmly. Although the temperatures are high this week, it can get quite cold at night or late at night – especially if you just lie still on the floor or on a lounger – quite cold. In addition, it is wise to look for a place with little light pollution; the darker the environment, the better you can see the meteors. Lots of fun!

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