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The third brightest object in the sky

In December, the first British European Space Agency Astronaut, Tim Peake, will be heading to the International Space Station on the five-month-long Principia mission. Along with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra, he will launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to join the international team on…

‘Charts drawn in blood’

Guest blog composed by one of our history of science interns, Stuart Jennings ‘Charts drawn in blood’: Observatory Chronometers and the 1822-26 Royal Navy survey of Africa   In the ‘Time and Longitude’ gallery of the Royal Observatory, John Arnold’s chronometer number 323 is celebrated for its service on Belcher’s…

Waiting for Halley

On a cold December night in 1758, a German farm-owner from Dresden stood resolute in the quiet, frosty air, spellbound at the image in the eyepiece of his telescope. It must have felt like a gift from the heavens. After all, it was Christmas night and Johann Georg Palitzsch had…

Get ready to watch nature’s very own fireworks display as the Perseids meteor shower rolls into town. The shower can be seen every year between 17th July and 24th August, with the peak falling on the morning of the 13th August this year. Conditions for viewing the shower are favourable this year as the Moon – a natural source of light pollution – diminishes into a New Moon on the 14th August.

Perseids Meteor Shower. Credit: David Kingham

Perseids Meteor Shower. Credit: David Kingham

Try to get to an area with few or no artificial lights and let your eyes adjust to the dark. Hunting for meteors, like the rest of astronomy, is a waiting game, so it’s best to bring a comfy chair to sit on and to wrap up warm as you could be outside for a while. If luck is on your side, you may see around 80 meteors per hour. The meteors can be seen in all parts of the sky, so it’s good to be in a wide open space where you can scan the night sky with your eyes – binoculars or telescopes are not needed. But if you trace the paths that the meteors take, they seem to originate from a point in the constellation of Perseus, which gives this particular meteor shower its name. However, don’t wait until this date as the meteor shower will build up in the week and days before.

Read more in our article for the Guardian by our astronomer Affelia Wibisono here
For help with your stargazing session, read our guide for beginners here.