A spectacular shooting star show is predicted in the skies above Hampshire tonight.
Stargazers are looking forward to the arrival of Perseids - showers of shooting stars or space debris that occur when tiny ‘sand sized’ fragments from the Swift-Tuttle comet collide with the earth’s atmosphere.
With optimum viewing expected from 10pm this evening through the night gazers will have the potential to see approximately 200 shooting stars an hour.
NASA said this year’s show will be better than most because the gravity of Jupiter, the solar system’s largest planet, will pull the particles closer together.
Graham Bryant, chairman of Hampshire Astronomical Group, said: ‘The Perseid meteor showers are probably the most viewed shooting stars every year due to the summer timing that they occur.’
‘All you need is your eyes to view them, there is no special equipment needed. They are very distinctive, very bright and have a flash at the end so you won’t miss them and they are very very fast.’
‘The best way to view them is too look at 45 degrees above the horizon and try and stay away from light pollution, so no street lights or sports stadium lights or that sort of thing. If you can see the stars then you should be in a position to see the Perseids.’
‘The key is to be patient, it may take 5 minutes to see one or there could be a cluster of 2 or 3 at the same time and then a 10 minute gap.’
Viewers are recommended by the Met Office to wear warm clothing as it can get chilly at that time of night.
People hoping to photograph or record the shooting stars on their phone should not be too disappointed if it does not capture the darting stars because of their speed.
Picture of Perseids above Hurst Castle in Hampshire by Matthew Pinner / www.thenewforest.co.uk