Another chance to see the Perseids meteor show tonight

Good chance of a clearance in the west to allow for further sightings of celestial fireworks

The International Space Station captured the stunning Perseid meteor shower. Each year in August the Earth bisects the tail of comets which are also orbiting the sun. Video: NASA/ ISS

 

Stargazers will get another chance to view the Perseids on Friday night especially in the west of Ireland.

The annual meteor shower peaked on Thursday night, but there will still be good chances to see the annual celestial fireworks until Monday.

Astronomy Ireland director David Moore braved the drizzle before heading to the car park at the Sugar Loaf in Co Wicklow by which time the skies had cleared just after midnight.

“In one 15 minute period, I counted 19 meteors, more than one a minute,” he said.

Mr Moore said Astronomy Ireland received more than 50 reports from across the country detailing sightings of meteors.

The Perseids peaked in the early hours of Friday morning at an approximate rate of 200 meteors per hour. On Friday night/Saturday morning the rate is expected to be half that, but will still be sufficient to see a lot of meteors if the sky is clear.

The forecast for Friday night is for a weather front to clear from western counties overnight. Met Éireann forecaster Pat Clarke said there was a prospect that it would be “fully clear” in the west, but in the eastern half of the country it would be a “close run thing” as to whether there would be a sufficient clearance to see the meteors.

Each year in August the Earth bisects the tail of comets which are also orbiting the sun.

The Perseids are created when the Earth crosses the tail of Swift-Tuttle, a comet which takes 133 years to orbit the sun.

This year Earth will pass closer to the centre of the comet and astronomers believe it may result in one of the most spectacular Perseid showers of recent years.

Meteors are created when tiny flecks of dust and debris from the comet penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere at nearly 60 kilometres per second creating a shockwave. They burn up quickly in the atmosphere leaving the impression of a huge fireball.

Did you see the meteor shower? Send your photos to newsdesk@irishtimes.com or tweet them to us @irishtimes