The Perseid meteor shower. Photo: Blaline McCartney/AP Photo
First, what are meteors?
Comet trash. They leave a dust-filled trail, and Earth speeds through their path every year on our way around the sun. Perseid is one of the brightest meteor showers of the year in our part of the world. The tiny space particles that light up the sky come from the comet Swift-Tuttle. The debris is called Perseids because it comes from the same direction as the constellation Perseus, found in the north-eastern part of the sky.
What’s the best time to watch and where should you go?
Predictions of the peak nights vary between August 11th-13th. Prime viewing times are within the hours of 11pm and 4.30am, so be ready for a long night or an extra early morning.
In terms of location, it’s recommended you stay away from city lights. Try to find an open area unobstructed by buildings and trees to give you the best view.
Will the weather cooperate?
Urm, that’s a tough one. When you’re out and on the prowl for shooting stars you’d prefer perfectly clear black skies. That’s not likely to be the case here in Denmark. According to the Danish Meteorology Institute, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights will all be cloudy, but the forecast for the latter calls for "partially clear" skies, so that could be the best bet.
But don’t let the forecast put you off, you can still watch the dusty lights shoot through the clouds, and given the likelihood of more than a hundred meteors per hour, you’d regret letting the weather get in your way.
What should you bring?
The beauty of meteor-watching is that you don’t need any tools, your eyes are enough. And since this is Denmark, don’t forget to take a warm jacket with you.
To watch the sky in comfort, you’ll want to take a fold-up chair or a blanket so you can sit or lie down, because astronomy is a waiting-game. In fact, why not have a midnight picnic? Stargazing requires patience, so you might as well have something to do while you wait on the streaming lights to make their way to Earth. But make sure to keep your eyes on the sky. You don’t want to miss what you came for while wolfing down that sandwich.
The perfect date
It’s not a bad idea to also bring a friend or that special someone to share this phenomenon with. It could be the ultimate bonding experience. You have an excuse to cuddle away the chill of the night and spout out various facts about the Perseids while your significant other looks suitably impressed by your superior knowledge.
If you happen to be single, don’t fret. Ask your friends to come, or if you'd rather go alone, take a book (and flashlight) with you for company. Just make sure to keep an eye on the skies.