Tonight, the Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak. While those in the northern hemisphere are better placed to watch the spectacular show, there are opportunities for those down under as well.
For those in northern Australia, the Perseid meteor shower will be at its peak on 13 August. Unfortunately, for those any further south than Brisbane and Alice Springs, the meteors will be below the horizon – but we’ll be bringing you the best pictures and videos from the shower
As with any stargazing, try and find somewhere far from the city lights, make sure to give your eyes times to adjust to the dark and lie on your back and look up
Using telescopes or binoculars isn’t recommended, as your field of view is restricted so you might miss a lot.
If you’re too far south – or just can’t be bothered getting up in the dark – Slooh are broadcasting a live stream that you can watch below.
The Perseids rain down from July 17 to August 24, with only a few meteors an hour visible most of the time. However, on peak dates the sky show can produce 60 to 100 meteors an hour.
Expectations are high for an especially vivid display this year because of computer models. Russian astronomer Mikhail Maslov and Finnish astronomer Esko Lyytinen predict that this year Earth will pass through a dense debris field that has been shifted in our direction by Jupiter’s strong gravity.
If we are lucky, this could translate to an intense uptick in shower activity in the late evening of August 11, with rates of up to 200 shootings stars an hour. Observers in North America and Europe should get front-row seats for this possible meteor bonanza, which, if it happens, will be the first Perseid outburst since 2009.
The light from the gibbous moon may drown out a bit of the show during the first part of the night, so the best viewing may be after local midnight and into the predawn hours, when the moon will sink very low in the western horizon.
The meteors will appear to radiate from the shower's namesake constellation Perseus, which rises after local midnight in the north-eastern sky.
The best spots to view the shower will be away from the city in the dark countryside. Meteors will be visible even under bright suburban skies, but you can expect to see only a quarter to half as many shooting stars. No matter where you are, allow about half an hour for your eyes to adjust to the darkness before you start sky-watching in earnest.
If you want to get a keepsake of the sky show, try grabbing a photo. All you need is a tripod-mounted digital SLR camera that can take long exposures of 15 seconds or more. Use a wide lens to capture as much of the overhead sky as possible. Set the camera to ISO 400 to pick up fainter shooting stars, and set a remote timer to eliminate any camera shake.
Keep in mind that taking a snapshot of the Perseids involves some patience and luck. It can take many minutes before a single meteor crosses your frame, so experiment with images lasting up to 40 seconds each and keep snapping images for as long as possible.