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Fri, 01 Aug 2014 - Don't overlook the Perseids

You might have got the impression from some Sky Guides that this year's Perseid meteor shower will be drowned out by a bright Moon.
 
Certainly, the Perseid peak occurs little more than 2 days after Full Moon of Aug 10 and on the night of Perseid maximum the Moon will have risen before the sky gets dark.
 
All is not lost, however, and it should still be possible to see a good number of Perseids.
 
- The Perseids are rich in bright meteors and so many Perseids will still be seen despite the moonlit sky background.
 
- Although a 17 day old Moon would climb high in the sky during an autumn/winter meteor shower (such as the Geminids or Quadrantids), it is somewhat lower in the sky for the Perseids, leaving a good amount of the northern sky still reasonably dark
 
- In addition, you can minimise the effect of the moonlight by observing with your back to the Moon - possibly viewing the Cassiopeia/Cepheus/Ursa Minor area. If possible, keep the Moon hidden behind trees or a nearby building.
 
- The observed rates will also increase as the night progresses as the Perseid radiant climbs higher into the sky. Thus although observed rates may be low before midnight, better rates will be seen in the early hours of the morning.
 
- The switch from photographic film to digital imaging has also made imaging in moonlit skies more feasible. For advice regarding the DSLR imaging and video imaging of meteors, see
 
DSLR Imaging guide
Video Imaging guide
Richard Fleet's talk (video)
 
- Some Perseids will be visible in the moon-free post-midnight skies in the first week of August. Indeed, from the UK, the Moon is still setting before midnight as late as Aug 5th. 
 
However, do remember to identify the correct location for the Perseid radiant on each night (as shown in this chart)
 
Finally, few Perseids will be seen if you look directly at the shower radiant (their paths will be too short to easily see against the star background).
 
For the best observed rates, look at any area of sky around 20-30 degrees from the radiant and at an altitude of around 50 degrees (and on the side of the radiant that is further away from the Moon)
 

Added by: Tracie Heywood