Meteor shower lights up skies over Europe

Perseid meteor shower comet hit earth dinosaurs

REUTERS WIPEOUT A gravitational nudge could result in it plunging towards Earth

The Perseid meteor shower is one of the most reliable showers year-after-year as Comet Swift-Tuttle that creates has been in orbit for thousands of years.

Usually, on these peak nights it will produce 60-70 meteors an hour, but in bursts the rate can go up to 200 an hour.

The best viewing conditions can be found outside city limits, looking toward the northern horizon between the "Little Dipper" and the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus.

"During the peak nights of August 11-12 and August 12-13, more than 100 meteors (shooting stars) can be seen per hour", Ottawa astronomer Gary Boyle told this newspaper last week.

"The Perseids have been observed for around 2000 years, and are the result of Earth passing through a cloud of dust left behind Comet Swift-Tuttle".

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The Perseid meteor shower could be seen across the globe, including in Europe, the United States and Canada. The darker the sky the more meteors you will see.

Known as perseids, also called "Tears of St. Lawrence", the shower of shooting stars is visible in the Earth's atmosphere.

NASA scientists advise that although they can be seen any time after 10 p.m., the best time to spot a flurry of meteors will be during the darkest part of the night, in the early hours before dawn, from 11 first light.

Lucky observers may see the occasional meteor sailing across the sky for several seconds, leaving behind a trail of glowing smoke. No special equipment is needed, but if you want the best view, it helps to be as far from artificial light as possible. "This cloud is the outgassing remnant from the comet and causes this meteor shower", explains Dr Tobias Hinse, a top exoplanetary scientist based at Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (KASI), South Korea. However, the meteors can appear anywhere in the sky.

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