How to watch in Australia

A month long meteor shower is set to peak on Wednesday night with debris from a comet thousands of years old to shoot across the sky in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The Perseids meteor shower is an annual event that begins around mid-July, but the peak of the cycle, where you’re most likely to be able to see what you came for, is due for August 12 and 13 this year in our part of the world.

Viewing is best in the northern hemisphere but in Australia if the conditions are right you should be able to see at least a few stars of the celestial ceremony.

A waning crescent moon has the potential to block out some of the fainter meteors, while cloud cover in some parts of the country could also affect visibility.

The Perseids are known for having brighter than usual meteors with long tails, making them the easiest to see.

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There’s also the matter of the cold.

Like most events favoured by amateur astronomers, in order to get the best possible view you should be lying under an open sky looking directly upwards to get the widest possible view — an idea that might not go over too well with some in the dead of winter and the night.

If you’re brave enough to be outside give yours eyes time to adjust and you should be able to see a few shooting stars streak across the sky — no telescope or binoculars required (they’re actually not recommended as you want to be able to see as much of the sky as possible).

You’ll also want to avoid built-up metro areas where street lamps and other light pollution will make it difficult to see into space.

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This handy tool can also give you a better idea of where to look to find the “radiant” where meteors are highest in the sky.

The Perseids meteor shower is made up of debris from Swift-Tuttle comet, named in 1862 after independent discoveries, but previously observed by Chinese astronomers thousands of years ago.

The comet itself is visible every 130 to 135 years approximately, last being sighted in 1992.

Stargazing and comet watching has been a popular hobby and vocation for thousands of years, but luckily for us technology has advanced to the point where we don’t need to be looking up at the sky in the dead of night in order to get a view.

While it’s not the same as watching it live — NASA will provide a livestream of the (better) northern hemisphere view of the shower from 11am on Wednesday morning (AEST).

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