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Perseids 2011

Although the Perseids are one of the stand-out meteor showers of the year, in 2011 the display is unlikely to be spectacular due to the interference of the full Moon. The maximum of the shower is predicted for around 06:00 UT on August 13th, with the Full Moon later that day. The brightness of the Moon means that the sky in general will be a lot brighter too, and so only the brightest of the meteors is likely to be seen.

But this does not mean that it won’t be worth observing, but it is best to try and choose an observing spot that maximises your chances. Try to find a place with the Moon behind, preferably shaded by a building, tree or hill.

Its not really possible to say where in the sky to look, because the meteors can appear from anywhere. If you trace the path of the meteor, you should find that it appears to originate from the constellation of Perseus (this is why this shower is known as the Perseids), if it is a Perseid. Perseus will be rising in the north-east around midnight, and so just before midnight and through to dawn is the best time to view.

The radiant of the Perseids - illustration from Sky and Telescope

For those carrying out a meteor watch, you can download BAA Observing Report Forms as PDF or Excel files. And you can find out about how to observe and record observations on the BAA Meteor Section website. Please send your observations to the Meteor Section Director, John Mason.

So whilst this may not be a vintage year, do try to observe when you can, and report your observations back to the BAA.

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