The Perseids

Unfortunately in common with most cities the light pollution in Manchester is appalling and the chance of seeing any stars let alone shooting stars isn’t particular high. Still ever the optimist we decide to take a bit of advice from NASA and give it a go. 

“The best thing you can do to maximize the number of meteors you’ll see is to get as far away from urban light pollution as possible and find a location with a clear, unclouded view of the night sky. If you enjoy camping, try planning a trip that coincides with dates of one of the meteor showers listed below. Once you get to your viewing location, search for the darkest patch of sky you can find, as meteors can appear anywhere overhead.
The meteors will always travel in a path away from the constellation for which the shower is named. This apparent point of origin is called the "radiant." For example, meteors during a Leonid meteor shower will appear to originate from the constellation Leo. (Note: the constellation only serves as a helpful guide in the night’s sky. The constellation is not the actual source of the meteors”

Anyhow a bit of Googling revealed:

The Perseids
Comet of Origin: 109P/Swift-Tuttle
Radiant: constellation Perseus
Active: July 17-Aug. 24, 2013
Peak Activity: Aug. 11-12, 2013
Peak Activity Meteor Count: Up to 60 meteors per hour

A screenshot from the excellent, open source Stellarium .  Perseus can be seen just to the right of the centre carrying Medusa’s head. The red N indicates North.
A meteor from the Perseids meteor shower over Didsbury Smile

Absoutely amazing. I honestly thought there was no chance but after 3/4 of an hour sitting on a bench watching a herd of cows a shooting star appeared and we tracked it as it crossed the night sky. Perhaps even more astonishing pointing the camera in the general direction of Perseus and opening the shutter for 30 seconds resulted in the above photograph.

A video of the Perseids from a more experienced stargazer.

If you’ve never seen a shooting star give it a go. There really is something almost magical about watching them. Once seen its easy to understand how our ancestors believed they were omens or messages from the gods. Next year we’ll head over to Edale or somewhere else with a really dark sky.

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