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Saturday, 11 August, 2001, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Skywatchers await shooting stars
The Perseids are particularly spectacular
Astronomers are predicting a spectacular display of shooting stars on Sunday.

Dozens of meteors are expected to shoot across the sky every hour. The Perseids will be visible from the UK as streaks of coloured light in the night sky before dawn.

If you go out at about 3am the chances are that within a few minutes you will see a fairly nice meteor

Robin Scagell, astronomer
Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: "If you go out at about 3am the chances are that within a few minutes you will see a fairly nice meteor.

"The thing about the Perseids is that they are known for producing some quite spectacular meteors."

Comet trail

Meteors are streaks of light in the sky caused by small pieces of comet dust disintegrating in the Earth's atmosphere.

When comets pass close to the Sun, they begin to evaporate and leave behind a trail of gas and dust.

How to see the Perseids
Choose a dark location, away from city lights
Look up towards an unobstructed part of the sky
Face away from the Moon
When the Earth passes through this trail, we have a meteor shower.

The Perseids, which appear in the constellation Perseus, are among the fastest meteors, hitting the atmosphere at 60 kilometres per second.

For anyone who misses the Perseids, an even more spectacular meteor shower is promised in November.

Astronomers are predicting a storm of up to 15,000 Leonid shooting stars an hour.

See also:

14 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Here come the Leonids
18 Nov 99 | Sci/Tech
In the Leonids' lair
18 Nov 98 | The Leonids 98
The night the stars fell
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