When you can watch the stunning Perseid meteor shower from Surrey

A look upwards in the county across recent days has been greeted with the largely unfamiliar sight of clear blue skies.

In the coming days, though, you could look skywards and be greeted with a meteor shower.

The incredible Perseid meteor shower is set to reach its peak on Wednesday night (August 12).

The meteor shower is one of the highlights of the astronomical calendar with its captivating bright meteors and the staggeringly high number of them that pass over us every hour.

It obtained its name due to the meteors that form the shower seeming to originate from the constellation of Perseus, often referred to by astronomers as the shower’s “radiant” or “radiant point”.

It is caused by the earth hitting debris left behind by a comet known as Swift-Tuttle over the July and August period annually as our planet makes its journey around the sun.

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Thunderstorms have been forecast for five areas of Surrey and many parts of the county have been hit by heavy rainfall on Wednesday afternoon (August 12), meaning it could prove a difficult task trying to catch a glimpse of the must-see shower.

However, despite the increase in cloud cover, the Met Office has forecast that there is still a strong likelihood that you will be able to see the meteor shower this week.

When is the best time to see the Perseid shower at its peak?

The meteor shower will be active up until August 24, though its peak rate of meteors will be August 12.

Over this period, there will be a chance of seeing Perseid meteors whenever the shower’s radiant point – in the constellation Perseus – is above the horizon, with the number of visible meteors increasing the higher the radiant point is in the sky.

From Surrey, the radiant point is circumpolar, which means it is always above the horizon and the shower will be active throughout the night. It is possible to view the showers from when the sun sets, although the peak time is between midnight and 7am, when the radiant point is at its highest.

According to in-the-sky.org, parts of Surrey will see up to 143 meteors per hour at the shower’s peak.

It will appear at a peak altitude of 73° above the Surrey horizon, meaning that the meteors will enter the atmosphere at an oblique angle, thus producing long-lived meteors that may traverse a wide area of the sky before completely burning up.

How best to see the Perseid meteor shower?

It may sound rather obvious, but binoculars can be very helpful with seeing objects in the night sky. A standard set of binoculars will give you roughly 10x the magnification, according to Exeter Observatory.

If you want to pop out to watch the shower, you will need to keep an eye on the weather forecast in your area. According to the Met Office, visibility in Surrey is either good or very good until the weekend.

It is also essential to reduce the amount of light pollution in your field of view. This means you are better off heading to the rural, green areas of Surrey away from its towns and artificial light. Fortunately, Surrey has plenty of beauty spots and countryside areas to escape to.

To make the best of the meteors, observers should avoid built-up areas and try to find an unobstructed view to the east.

Your eyes typically need around 15 minutes to adjust to the dark, so be prepared.

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Tips to help you see the Perseid meteor shower

Binoculars can be very good for seeing objects in the night sky. A good entry level set of binoculars would be 10 x 50s which give 10 times magnification and an aperture of 50mm, according to Exeter Observatory .

In terms of the weather this week, it is best to plan ahead and keep an eye on the weather forecast, if it’s not looking like a good night to be sitting outside then maybe consider a different day, however, the Met Office says Wednesday night will offer gaps in the clouds to catch a glimpse of the shower at its peak.

Reducing the amount of light pollution in your field of view is essential. This could mean heading out of the city, toward the countryside, visiting a nearby park, or even just turning your back to street lamps if you can’t change your location.

To make the best of the meteors, observers should avoid built-up areas and try to find an unobstructed view to the east.

Your eyes typically need around 15 minutes to adjust to the dark, so be prepared.

Surrey Live – News