Meteor showers over Britain

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9 August 2021

By Fraser

We are in for a treat. Between now and 23 August, keen stargazers will be lucky enough to see a miraculous sight. As many as 150 meteors lighting up the sky per night.

For those who don’t know, meteors are comets when they have broken up into pieces. They crumble as they come too close to the sun and the pieces fragment. Some of the pieces are drawn into the Earth’s gravity at high speeds and they become meteors.

Despite their extreme speed and heat, it is ultra-rare for meteors to kill or even harm humans.

The most recent example was the Chelyabinsk meteor in Russia, which resulted in an impact that caused 1491 injuries, yet no deaths surprisingly.

Even though a meteor can be extremely devastating, the chances of it actually making ground are very slim. The majority of them break into much smaller chunks of meteorite and fizzle out before they land. So you all don’t need to worry.

Instead, you can enjoy the light show from a safe distance.

During summer, the skies are cloudless and chances are, not a hint of moonlight. This means your vision of what is going on above you will remain unimpeded. Rural and country areas are always better suited for stargazing, due to the lack of pollution and city lights.

The peak of the meteor shower in Europe, according to astronomers, is 12-13 August. Those are the nights in which the skies will allow for the highest visibility.

This particular wave of meteors is called the Perseid shower. The reason for this is because the comets originate from a part of space inhabited by the constellation Perseus.

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The origin of this particular name comes from the shape it takes, which was discovered in ancient times by Ptolemy. The shape was deemed to resemble that of the Greek legend Perseus holding the head of Medusa the Gorgon whom he had slain.

So in the next few weeks, why not give yourself a visual treat? Binoculars and telescopes will not be required for this. All you need is to stay up late and wrap up warm. Although in this heat, that will probably not be necessary either.

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