Top tips for watching the meteor shower in Germany
Lighting up the night sky once every year, the Perseid meteor shower taking place later this week is predicted to be the best in years, according to the International Meteor Organization. Planning to watch this stunning natural phenomenon? Here are a few tips.
What is a meteor shower?
On its way round the sun, the Earth passes through dust and debris left by comets. As the dust particles hit the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up, they create bright lights which streak across the sky, which we see as meteor showers.
The Perseid meteor shower occurs every August when the Earth passes through dust left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. It is named Perseid because the comet dust comes from the same direction as the constellation Perseus, which can be found in the northeastern part of the sky.
This year stargazers are in for a real treat as the shower might actually turn into a storm, Vance Petriew, President of the Royal Canadian Astronomical Society's Regina branch told CBC News.
When can I watch it?
Although the meteor shower will be visible on the nights of August 11th, 12th and 13th, the prime time to catch it in Germany is between 11pm on August 11th and 4:30am on August 12th.
Under completely clear skies and in complete darkness there may be 50 to 80 meteors per hour.
Where should I go?
For the best view of the meteor shower, it is best to get out of big cities where there are high levels of light pollution. If possible, head out into the middle of nowhere, where there are no tall buildings or trees obscuring your view, and very few lights.
You should look about two thirds of the way up the sky to have a chance of spotting the meteor shower.
The Perseid meteor shower burns up in the atmosphere, as the Milky Way galaxy can be seen in the night sky over the German island of Fehmarn, August 13th 2015. The annual Perseid meteor shower occurs when Earth passes through debris and dust of the 109P/Swift-Tuttle comet. The Perseids, one of the brightest meteorite swarms, consist of a multitude of stellar particles which, due to their high speed, burn and glow when entering Earth's atmosphere. Credit: EPA/Daniel Reinhardt #meteor #meteorshower #Perseid #milkyway #nightsky
Here are a few of the best stargazing spots in Germany:
Take a trip to the Sternenpark Westhavelland (Star Park Westhavelland), an International Dark Sky Reserve just 100 kilometres west of Berlin. The reserve is a massive 750 square kilometres in size, giving you uninterrupted views of the night sky.
Visit the Eifel National Park, a protected area 65 kilometres southwest of Cologne in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The enormous park is the size of 17,000 football pitches, offering endless opportunities for spotting the meteor shower.
Head out to the Rhön hills bordering the states of Bavaria, Hesse and Thuringia, at the Rhön UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and you will be treated to a spectacular view of the skies.
What should I bring?
Bringing telescopes is not advised, as this will restrict your field of view to a very small area. You need to be looking all over the sky to catch those meteor showers!
As it’s due to be an unusually chilly week, make sure you bring a jumper and possibly a blanket or two with you!
You'll be playing the waiting game trying to spot the meteor showers, so it might also be a good idea to bring a camping chair to sit on or a roll mat.
In case you get peckish, why not pack up a few snacks and have a little midnight picnic?
Will the weather hold up?
This week in Germany, it feels more like autumn than the height of summer, as temperatures average 13-18 degrees across the country at night.
Hopefully the prediction of a bit of cloud cover in some regions will be proved wrong.
By Saina Behnejad and Verity Middleton.