Perseids meteor shower to light up Germany's night sky next week
Prepare yourselves for one of the stargazing highlights of the year! The Perseids meteor shower, active between July and August every summer, will reach its peak next week, and amateur astronomers in Germany are in for a treat. Here’s how to make the most of one of nature’s most spectacular shows.
What are the Perseids?
The Perseids meteor shower is an annual meteor shower that is easily one of the most popular - even if it’s not quite the most prolific - because it’s easily visible across the entire northern hemisphere in August.
The Perseids’ stunning bursts of ethereal light come at the same time each year, when Earth passes through the steam of debris left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle. The shower is known as the Perseids because the meteors seem to originate from the constellation of Perseus. With a comet nuclear 26 kilometres in diameter, Swift-Tuttle is the largest object in the solar system that repeatedly passes close to Earth, which it does once every 133 years.
When is the Perseid meteor shower in 2020?
Although the shower is active between July 17 and August 24 each year, it will reach its peak in 2020 on the nights of Tuesday, August 11 and Wednesday, August 12. If you don’t fancy staying up that late on a weeknight, the stargazing conditions are also pretty good a few days either side of the peak.
With the Delta Aquariids meteor shower also rumbling in the background, this year’s meteor shower could be something really spectacular - as long as the German weather plays ball. At its peak between August 11 and 13, there’s a chance of seeing as many as 100 shooting stars burn across the sky every hour - although 50 per hour is more likely.
How to catch the Perseid meteor shower in Germany
The glowing meteors will only be visible in the evening hours, as long as the weather is good and the sky is clear. Your best chance of catching multiple shooting stars is in the hours before midnight. After 12 am, the moon will start lighting up the sky, making it too bright to see some of the weaker falling stars.
You can improve your chances of getting a good show by heading to an area with as little light pollution as possible - perhaps your local park, the countryside, or even one of Germany’s national parks. Find a spot with a clear view of the sky, away from trees and tall buildings. Give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness, allowing you to pick out even the fainter shooting stars. This means you shouldn’t look at your mobile phone while you’re stargazing!