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Perseid meteor shower: What you need to know

The Perseid meteor shower is due to reach its peak. Credit: PA

Stargazers are in for an annual treat as a Perseid meteor shower is set to spectacularly light up the night skies as it reaches its peak.

  • What is it?

Meteors consist of particles that burn up as they entering the Earth's atmospher, which appear as bright streaks of light.

The Perseid meteors are named after the constellation Perseus, but they are actually part of the debris shed by the comet Swift-Tuttle.

The annual shower produces a display of hundreds of "shooting stars" which streak across the sky at super high speeds.

Nasa's meteorite environment officer explains why Perseids are the "fireball champion" of meteor showers:

  • When is the best time to cast your eyes up to the sky?

The nights of August 11-12 are the best time to look up the sky to see the cosmic display.

Last year, more than 100 meteors an hour were recorded as the shower reached its peak.

A shooting star spotted near Wendover, southern England in August 2015. Credit: Reuters
  • Where is the best place to see the shower?

The northern hemisphere is the only place to see them. Look in the northeast part of the sky.

According to the Royal Observatory Greenwich, conditions will be even better this year as the Moon - which is a natural source of light pollution - will dip below the horizon around midnight.

  • Do I need a telescope?

The short and simple answer is no. Perseids can be seen with the naked eye so there's no need for a telescope or binoculars.

Avoid sources of light pollution in order to get a clear view of the night sky. Credit: PA

Tips for getting the best view of the Perseids

  • The best way to see the Perseids is to go outside after midnight and find an open space where you can scan the sky with little obstructions
  • Be patient and get comfortable as they can be like buses, you wait ages then 2 or more can come at once
  • Avoid areas where street lights will hinder your night vision.
  • Watch it online

If you're not the type to brave the outdoors, a Nasa livestream of the event will be available overnight for August 11, beginning at 10pm EDT (3am BST).

  • If you take any pictures or videos of the meteor shower, send them to yourstory@itv.com or you can post them on our Facebook page.