Astronomy At A Distance

Meteor showers are seasonal and occur at certain times of year. Professor Tom Marsh from the University of Warwick’s astrophysics team explains exactly what shooting stars are and the best way to see them. Gaze upwards on a clear night sky and you will eventually see a brief trail of light left by a shooting star.

Choosing an interesting foreground can enhance your images of space. Buying a tripod isn’t essential, but they will keep the camera steady if you are taking a picture with a very long exposure. The key settings you need to think about are the aperture, the exposure time, and the ISO, or sensitivity of the image sensor.

Our Work And Services

These amazing streaks of light you can sometimes see in the night sky are caused by tiny bits of dust and rock called meteoroids falling into the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up. The short-lived trail of light the burning meteoroid produces is called a meteor. There are several hundred comets that spend most of their lives flying among the planets of the inner Solar System.

  • Forget Me Not’s perinatal service is the only one of its kind in the UK, supporting families from the 20 week pregnancy scan onwards.
  • The radiant is in the constellation Perseus, just below the familiar ‘W’ of the constellation of Cassiopeia.
  • These meteors are called sporadic meteors and about one every ten minutes is the normal rate for them to be seen.
  • The material in these meteors is associated with the material in the asteroids and it is likely that they represent material that has come from fragmented asteroids.
  • There are lots of fun ways you can raise money for Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.
  • But, they’re expected to peak between August 12 and 13, which is when you’re more likely to see the most meteors.

You will be able to access your list from any article in Discover. It costs £8.8 million a year to keep our hospices open and we have to raise £8 million of this through donations, meaning we rely on our supporters’ generosity to keep the service running. We rely on the generosity of the public to keep our vital services running, so we can be there for families now and in the future.

Accessing Our Service

Trees or buildings silhouetted against a backdrop of swirling stars look stunning, and having some light sources on the ground can complement the pinpricks of stars in the sky. Avoid nights with a bright Moon in the sky if you just want to capture the stars. Have a wide aperture to let in the maximum amount of light — although a balance must be struck because images with maximum aperture can look blurry. Anyone can capture the majesty of the galaxy with a simple camera. You don’t need expensive gadgets — all you need is a dark, clear night and the willingness to have a go. Bake a cake, take on a sporty challenge or do something else brilliantly barmy to raise money.

Create your own luck, search the skies for your own superstar and make your mark in the constellations, because it’s time to name your very own star right here. Because they’re so fleeting and momentary, over the years a number of legends have arisen around them including the most notable ‘wish upon a shooting star’ idea. Meteoroids from Halley’s Comet strike the Earth’s atmosphere at an approximate speed of 150,000 miles per hour , burning up in the process.

Explore Space

The smaller meteors, however, tend to vaporise on their descent, leaving behind a trail of light. If no prominent shower is active then most of the meteors that are seen will come from random directions in space. These meteors are called sporadic meteors and about one every ten minutes is the normal rate for them to be seen. When larger chunks of interplanetary matter enter the atmosphere it is unlikely that the whole chunk will be evaporated. The outer layers will disappear, but the centre is likely to survive and will hit the ground as a meteorite. The speed with which small meteorites hit the ground can be around 500 km/h.

How To Spot A Meteor Shower

6) Meteors move fast, and can cross a large fraction of the sky in less than a second. If you see instead an object that moves slowly and steadily and can be seen for many seconds, you might just have seen an artificial satellite. 4) You don’t need binoculars or a telescope; they don’t help at all for looking for meteors. Don’t concentrate on one part of the sky, instead try to look everywhere, all at once.


Each entry includes the meteor shower name, the date of ‘maximum’ — when activity peaks — and the normal limits of when each meteor shower is visible. Back in older times, a shooting star was considered an omen of dangerous times ahead. Ancient people were troubled by comets – these fiery orbs were said to bring bad luck or foretell disaster. In fact comets are largely made up of ice and are so small and so very far away that we cannot see them, even in the biggest telescopes. They can be seen when they head inwards toward the Sun and form a distinctive flaming tail of gas and dust.

When the Sun and planets formed to make our Solar system 4.5 billion years ago, many bits and pieces were left over. They are still around today in the form of asteroids and comets. Such debris comes in all sizes with objects of over a thousand kilometres in diameter right down to millimetre-sized grains of material and smaller. Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice would like to keep you up-to-date with the latest news from the Shooting Star Appeal, along with more stories from families just like Suzanne and Tom. To sign up to receive these updates, please tick the relevant boxes below.

Student Life

Meteors can be seen at any time, but the best time to look for them is during periodic showers. The Eta Aquariid meteor shower is expected to peak on the night of May 5, with up to 50 meteors per hour, and will be visible until the early morning of May 6. Look up to the skies this evening and you may be lucky enough to see part of the Lyrids meteor shower which occurs in April. A maximum of about per hour is forecast for around April 21 and 22. After the Lyrids come the Eta Aquariids which are associated with the tail of Halley’s Comet. These appear low in the sky and a maximum of about 35 per hour is forecast for the 5 or 6 May — perfect for the week of the May Bank holiday.

Join our fantastic team of volunteers who support our hospices, support teams, shops and events. We use the latest research to underpin our care and are committed to furthering research in the area of children’s palliative care. Find out more about our care service for children with a life-limiting condition. We’ve launched a virtual hospice so during the pandemic we can take our hospice service to families at home. See how your gift will support life-limited children and their families. Run, walk, step, swim, cycle or skydive — find your perfect event to raise money for Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.