Perseid meteors

Composite image of 2015 Perseid meteor shower, taken over 3 nights by Scott MacNeill at Frosty Drew Observatory, Charlestown, Rhode Island.

The Perseids are usually the best meteor shower of the year. The peak will be on Saturday, with perhaps as many as 100 shooting stars per hour (although any meteor shower is best after midnight). that’s 1-2 a minute. There’s a rumour going around that this year it will be far more amazing than usual, perhaps even visible in the daytime. Sadly this is baloney, probably for the clicks. The moon will be gibbous (3/4 full) and will wash out the fainter meteors. Please note, the image above is several frames put together. It’s unlikely to be that good with the naked eye.

In Spain, this shower is known as las lagrimas de San Lorenzo (the tears of St Lawrence) because it happens near the feast day of St. Lawrence the martyr.
The best time to observe meteors is whenever there’s no moon. Most showers get better after midnight, so you’ll often need warm clothing. Chose a place with a clear view of the sky and (preferably) no street lights. (On La Palma, any of the astronomical viewpoints would be ideal.) If possible, lie back on a blanket or recliner. Give your eyes time to adjust (ideally, 15 minutes.) It’s best to look away from the radiant, so you can see where the meteor came from. If you want to make notes of how many you see, it’s easier to use a tape recorder than a pen and paper.

I don’t think wishing on a shooting star works, unless you take action to make the wish come true. But it can be very interesting to admit to yourself what you’d wish for.

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