Friday, 11 August 2023, 11:17
One of the biggest astronomical spectacles of the year is about to happen. The Perseids, or Tears of St Lawrence, begin to cross the night sky during the second half of July, but it is not until mid-August when this meteor shower reaches its peak.
According to the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Canarian Astrophysics Institute), this year, the best time to enjoy this spectacle will be the night of 12-13 August.
Although this astronomical event is sometimes referred to as a star shower, the Perseids are actually meteors. While shooting stars are tiny dust particles that are released from comets, or asteroids, along their orbits around the Sun, this cloud of meteoroids is the result of solar heat melting.
"They originate from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. This comet completes an orbit around the Sun approximately every 133 years and, every time it approaches the Earth, Swift-Tuttle heats up and emits jets of gas and small solid particles that form the comet's tail," the Canarian Astrophysics Institute reported.
They are called Perseids after the constellation Perseus, as they appear to spring from this point in the sky where the constellation is located.
One can see the Perseids with the naked eye from nightfall until dawn, which is the peak time to see the display. Experts advise choosing a place with clear skies, away from city lights so it is as dark as possible. The Perseids can appear anywhere in the sky, although their trajectory appears to come from a point in the constellation of Perseus.
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