Nature’s very own firework display: Your guide to watching the Perseid meteor shower

Credit: PA Wire

By Jamie Roberton: ITV News

The stunning Perseid meteor shower will reach its peak on Tuesday night, as stargazers prepare to watch hundreds of bright streaks of light shoot across the sky.

The shower can produce more than 100 meteors per hour, so here are some tips to ensure you get the best view of the phenomenon.

What is it?

Meteors are bright streaks of light which shoot across the sky at incredible speeds, and the "shooting stars" can potentially turn into bright fireballs.

"The Perseid meteor shower is essentially little bits of cometary debris entering our atmosphere at high speed and flaring up producing bright streaks across the sky," Dr Radmila Topalovic, Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told ITV News.

The annual display is caused by debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits around the Sun once every 133 years.

Parts of Leytonstone, east London witnessed 'shooting stars' last year. Credit: PA Wire

How good are this year's showers expected to be?

The effect of the "supermoon" could impact on this year's view, Dr Topalovic warns.

"This year there will be a bright waning gibbous moon in the sky at the same time as the shower which means it will be more difficult to catch the fainter meteors."

A shooting star seen from West Sussex. Credit: Paul Williams/@pcwilliams

When is the best time to watch?

The very early hours of the morning just before sunrise are the best time to catch the meteors, according to Dr Topalovic.

"Allow about 20 minutes for your eyes to properly adapt to the dark and then keep scanning the eastern sky."

This image was produced from 141 long-exposed photographs in Wales last year. Credit: Mike Davies

Do I need a telescope or binoculars?

No - just your eyes are needed to see the spectacular sights.

A view of Stonehenge during the annual Perseid meteor shower last year. Credit: Reuters

Be patient!

It can take a few minutes before a shooting star appears so don't look away!

You do not have to look in a particular direction; astronomers say the most important thing is to scan the whole sky for as long as possible.

Last year's meteor shower in Suffolk. Credit: ITV Meridian/Anthony Puttock

Where are the best places to watch the shower?

"The best place to see the shower is in the countryside away from city lights and smog with a clear view of the eastern horizon," the astronomer said.

"The meteors will appear to come from the constellation of Perseus which will be in that part of the sky."

The Met Office told ITV News that cloud is likely to affect visibility in most parts across the UK, but stargazers in southern England will gain the best view.

  • Bournemouth

  • Portsmouth

  • East Anglian coast

Londoners will be able to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon, but light pollution and the effects of the so-called "Supermoon" will impact on views.

A meteor is seen in Wiltshire during the Perseids meteor shower in 2013. Credit: PA Wire

What else might I need?

"The weather forecast looks clear tonight but a little chilly so take a blanket and flask of tea and dress up warmly," the astronomer advised.

"Also a deck chair will allow you to watch nature’s very own firework display in comfort!"