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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Don't miss the Perseid meteor shower in our skies tonight

The Perseid meteor shower as seen in 2009. Photo: PA
The Perseid meteor shower as seen in 2009. Photo: PA

Sarah-Jane Murphy

The Perseid meteor shower, which is the most active meteor shower of the year, is happening tonight.

As Earth plows through a trail of dust and rock left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle, tiny pieces of debris will enter our atmosphere and burn up, producing beautiful shooting stars.

Starting at around 11 pm, you'll be able to see as many as 50 of these meteors per hour.

Luckily, Met Eireann has forecast clear spells tonight.

Astronomy Ireland say that the best way to see the shower is to find a relatively dark area, let your eyes adjust, and take in the wonder that is our planet passing through a cloud of burning cosmic dust.

Read More: Perseid meteor shower: Clear conditions to make for 'truly amazing sight'

Comets are balls of ice and rock. Like Earth, they orbit the sun, but unlike Earth, their orbits are extremely elliptical, so at times they're at the outer reaches of the solar system, and at others they pass right by the sun.

The darker it is, the more meteors you'll be able to see, so rural areas are much better than cities.

That being said, even within a developed area, just getting away from bright street-lights will help you see the meteors much better.

And not only the Perseids will be visible; the International Space Station (ISS) is also expected to pass over Ireland. It will move much slower than the shooting stars, and will be visible over Irish skies until August 16.

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