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Perseid meteor shower: All you need to know to see it over the Bishop's Stortford area tonight




Tonight (Aug 12-13) should provide the best viewing of the Perseid metor shower, with between 50 and 100 meteors being visible every hour. Even after tonight, viewing the meteor show will be possible, just with a reduced rate of sightings.

With the current heatwave coinciding with one of the best and most predictable summer light shows in the Northern hemisphere, there will be no need for blankets and hot water bottles, with two 'tropical nights' forecast where the night-time temperature does not drop below 20C (68F) and clear skies expected into the early hours in the South East.

So, with clear skies and warm temperatures, now all you need to know is what is the best time and in which direction to point your garden chair.

North-northeast at 11pm moving easterly towards northeast by midnight (40348754)
North-northeast at 11pm moving easterly towards northeast by midnight (40348754)

The two main bars to good astronomical viewing in an urban area like Bishop's Stortford are street lights and moonlight.

Herts County Council's work to replace street lights with LED fittings over the last few years has actually helped reduce overall light pollution, making viewing of the Perseids very achievable, even from a town centre garden.

As long as you are not in the direct line of sight of a light source, which will affect your eyes' sensitivity to the meteors, the street lighting should not have too detrimental an impact.

A long exposure photo of the Perseid meteor shower (40348926)
A long exposure photo of the Perseid meteor shower (40348926)

Sunset is at 8.27pm while moonrise in Bishop's Stortford is at midnight. Twilight will persist until a few minutes before 11pm. This should provide you with the best one-hour viewing window for maximum meteor count.

Ordinarily, you get better viewing of the Perseids later in the night, but the rising moon means if you are not planning on making a whole night of it, go for between 11pm and midnight.

Even with light-polluted skies and even before the sky is fully dark, you should be able to see the meteor shower any time from twilight until dusk, as long as you are looking in the right direction.

Luckily, the Perseid meteor shower – named after the constellation the meteors appear to originate from in the sky – is in a comfortable viewing height for sitting in a chair.

Direction of viewing over Bishop's Stortford at 11pm tonight. Red area shows direction that meteors will appear to come from (40351209)
Direction of viewing over Bishop's Stortford at 11pm tonight. Red area shows direction that meteors will appear to come from (40351209)

If you imagine the horizon is a zero and that straight up is ten, then your viewing angle is about a three at 11pm and a four by midnight. If you are five or six metres away from your house, you should be able to see the meteors over your roof.

The best way to get direction and angle optimal is by getting an app on your phone or tablet to get yourself best aligned, but as long as you are looking in a north-northeast direction at 11pm to a north-east direction by midnight, you are looking the right way.

If you happen to be out taking pictures of the Perseid meteor shower tonight or tomorrow, we would love to see them. Please email them to photos@stortfordindie.co.uk.



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