Lots of meteors in the Donegal sky tonight

'Keep watching the skies'

Lots of meteors in the Donegal sky tonight

Keep watching the skies tonight

"Watch the skies. Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!"

That's a famous quote from the 1951 science fiction classic, The Thing from Another World, a  film about an Air Force crew and scientists at a remote Arctic research outpost who fight a malevolent alien being.

At the end of the film journalist Ned Scott relays the story of how they won the battle this time but warns the public to be alert for more things coming from outer space.

It's not the case or as dramatic but there will be action in the skies above Donegal with the second night of the Perseid meteor shower tonight .

It is one of the best meteor showers of the year and the whole country will see a free celestial fireworks display. Astronomy Ireland wants everyone to count them for a special survey.

Astronomy Ireland is asking everyone in Donegal to help count the Perseids this year.

Details are on the society's website astronomy.ie
but all you need do is to count how many you see every 15 minutes and send them to the address given on the website.

"This has real scientific value as we only know how these meteor showers develop by members of the public counting them while they view the beautiful spectacle of nature that is a meteor shower," said David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine.

"You do not need any telescopes or binoculars, just normal human eyesight, oh, and a clear sky, but a few clouds won't spoil the view especially as you have all the hours of darkness to see them and this shower is known for producing some brilliant fireballs. I remember seeing one that light up the whole countryside like daylight for a few seconds!" he said

You can see Perseids anywhere in the sky so just fill your vision with as much sky as possible and enjoy the natural celestial fireworks display. A sun lounger or reclining chair will make you comfortable, or even a blanket on the ground.

A full report of what Irish people see will be published in Astronomy Ireland magazine which is available on news stands nationwide or through the website delivered anywhere in the 32 counties.

Meteors are caused by small particles, typically the size of a grain of sand, burning up high in the Earth's atmosphere. The particles come from comets, which are basically giant dirty snowballs of ices and dust a few kilometres in size.

The comet that causes the Perseds is known to be the Comet Swift-Tuttle which orbits the Sun every 130 years. It last came close to the Sun in 1992 and its previous passes have spread dust all around its long elliptical (cigar-shaped) orbit so that when the Earth comes near the orbit of the comet we plough through the thickest dust it has left behind.

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