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The Perseid Meteor Shower, associated with the Comet Swift-Tuttle, is among the most spectacular meteor showers throughout the year. Its maximum occurs around the 12th to 13th August every year. The number of meteors emerges from Perseids is relatively stable. Under favourable observing conditions, as many as 100 meteors per hour can be observed during the maximum (ZHR=100)*.

2018 Perseid Meteor Shower

 

The Perseids are a striking meteor shower in 2018. Its peak is expected to occur on 13 August at about 4:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and observation can start from 10:00 p.m. on 12 August till dawn next day. As New Moon occurs on 11 August, observation on 13 August will not be affected by any moonlight. The expected zenith hourly rate is 110 in environment with low light pollution. We just need to find a dark location with an unobstructed view, especially in the North to enjoy this event. Nevertheless, the actual number of meteors visible will be less than that predicted due to various factors such as altitude of the radiant, light pollution and weather condition.

Information on the predicted maximum of the Perseids is as follows:

Hong Kong Local Time Observing condition Zenithal Hourly Rate*
August 13 Favourable 110

(source: International Meteor Organization)

Image: The northeastern sky at 11 p.m. on 12 August

Tips for watching the Perseids

 

1.Most of the meteors appear during the maximum. However, the prediction may have errors. It is still worthwhile to observe throughout the night closest to the maximum.

Perseids 2017 ZHR Graph
Change on ZHR of Perseids in 2017

2.Meteor is a phenomenon happened in the atmosphere and therefore, observation is possible only when the radiant is above the horizon. Even for the same meteor, its position in the sky is not the same for observers at different sites.

3.Although the radiant of the meteor shower is located in the constellation Perseus, the meteors may not necessarily appear in Perseus or its nearby sky zone. Therefore, an ideal observation should take place at a site with an unobstructed view, especially in the northeast.

4.Meteors can be seen with the naked eye and no telescope is required. You should bring along tools like a star-map, a red light torch, and a mat.

* Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) is the hypothetical hourly rate of meteors observable in an extremely dark and wide sky with the radiant located at the zenith. As it is only an ideal rate, in practice, observed rates will definitely be lower than the ZHR.

Stargazing Manner

 

1. Do not use flashlight to take photos. In a dark place, our pupils dilate. A person will feel discomfort and lost his dark adaptation if a strong light shines on his eyes suddenly. Photos of wispy nebulae and galaxies can only be taken with extended exposure. Not only flashlight will not help, it will become a nuisance.

2. Use Red Torch for Lighting. Red light is less irritating to the eyes and helps to preserve our night vision. A red torch can be prepared easily by wrapping a sheet of red cellophane, cloth or even a plastic bag over an ordinary torch.

3. Do not start a fire close to somebody's telescope. Since flames are bright and the hot air around causes the image to shiver, the surface details of the celestial body cannot be resolved when a fire is around. Use a warm pack or put on more clothes to keep warm.

4. Keep quiet. Do not shout or run.

5. No littering. Put litter into litter bins or take it with you.