New Delhi: The night sky will be streaked with light in a celestial spectacle by the Perseid meteor shower Thursday.
Skygazers can look towards the northeast around 2 a.m. Friday when over 100 meteors will sparkle in the night sky. It will last for a fraction of a second and will almost be as bright as most stars.
"The Perseids is one of the most reliable and spectacular meteor showers of the year and will be at peak on the night of Aug 12 or early morning Aug 13," Science Popularisation Association of Communicators & Educators (SPACE) director Chandra Bhushan Devgun said.
The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year between July 25 and Aug 18, with a peak on Aug 12. It has its origin in the constellation Perseus.
As comets move about their orbits, they leave a trail of dusty and rocky debris. When the earth passes through the comets` orbit, the debris is attracted towards it because of gravity and burns due to the friction experienced during entry into the atmosphere, leading to a meteor shower.
No telescopes or binoculars are required for watching the meteor shower.
"The shower can be watched with the naked eye. Make sure that you have the widest possible area of sky visible. Try to get away from light pollution," said N.S. Raghunandan Kumar of the Planetary Society, India.
The source of the shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the comet is far away, currently located beyond the orbit of Uranus, a trail of debris from the comet stretches all the way back to the earth.
Records of Perseids activity date back to 36 AD. In 1839, German astronomer Eduard Heis was the first to take a meteor count and discovered that Perseids had a maximum rate of around 160 meteors per hour.