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Perseid meteor shower. Where and when to look.

A Perseid meteor captured in August 2013 Photo: STEPHEN CHEATLEY

Moonlight might be romantic and the full moon is a sight to behold but it's a nuisance when trying to spot shooting stars. The nights of 11th and 12th August is the time to spot the annual Perseid meteor shower and last year the full moon was swamping the night sky with light making it difficult to spot the shooting stars. The good news this year however, is that the moon is near its new phase, that means it appears near the sun in the sky and is consequently absent from the night sky over the next few nights.

A Perseid meteor captured streaking across the night sky in August 2013 against our Milky Way galaxy Credit: STEPHEN CHEATLEY

At this time of year earth passes through the debris of the comet Swift-Tuttle. This debris mostly consists of dust no bigger than a grain of sand but when they hit the earth's atmosphere at 140 000 mph, they vapourise in a streak of light we see as a shooting star.

Why are they called Perseids? The shooting stars appear to come from the constellation of Perseus in the north-eastern sky.

They will be best viewed away from light pollution and around midnight. They are very difficult to photograph so my advice is to just watch and enjoy. Oh and don't forget to make a wish!

JON MITCHELL