Friday 18 October 2019

A meteor shower will be visible across Ireland tonight- here's how you can see it

A photographer looks at the sky at night to see the annual Geminid meteor shower near Provenzales' rock, in Maira Valley, northern Italy Photo: Getty Images
A photographer looks at the sky at night to see the annual Geminid meteor shower near Provenzales' rock, in Maira Valley, northern Italy Photo: Getty Images
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

The Geminid meteor shower, one of the clearest of the year, is set to peak across Irish skies tonight.

Between 60 and 120 meteors per hour shoot across the sky every year in the shower, and this year it's set to get the closest its been to earth in the last 50 years, astronomy experts have said.

According to Astronomy Ireland, as earth moves through clouds of dust leftover from comets, the particles fall into our atmosphere and burn up, creating a streak of light in the sky known as meteors- or more commonly, shooting stars.

The phenomenal display was first recorded in 1862 and causes a stir among astronomy lovers every December.

The shower will be clearest across Ireland tonight, but will make its closest approach on December 16- so if you don't catch it tonight, there's time to catch a glimpse during the week.

You should be able to spot the shooting stars without a telescope.

"No special equipment is needed, and you can look anywhere in the sky," an Astronomy Ireland spokesperson said.

However, a clear sky will be needed to spot it, and the current weather forecast from Met Éireann shows that the southwest and west of the country will experience a break in the clouds coming into Friday morning.

"Many areas will remain cloudy, but some clearer intervals will develop in parts of the southwest and west towards dawn," the national forecaster said,

"Friday will be mostly cloudy with patchy rain, drizzle and mist on Friday morning, but a few bright or brief sunny intervals also."

Heavy rain and strong winds are expected to cross Ireland on Saturday, but Sunday will be "bright and breezy".

The Geminid shower comes as news of a 'Christmas comet' is expected to pass earth later this week.

Astronomy Ireland are hosting a viewing event on Friday 14 to witness the "once in a lifetime" comet- so views of the meteor shower may also be possible then.

Members of the public can avail of the “rare opportunity” to view the comet for free on Friday 14 December at 8pm in Astronomy Ireland’s Dublin headquarters, at Unit B1, Centrepoint, Rosemount Business Park, Blanchardstown.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News