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Perseid meteor shower lights up the skies

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The peak of meteor season rewarded stargazers last night as the annual Perseid meteor shower yielded a particularly fine showing.

August is traditionally the shooting star month, as the Earth intersects a stream of debris left in the wake of comet Swift-Tuttle.

It was the most prolific Perseid meteor shower in seven years, and locals took advantage of the relatively clear skies to lie out for a view.

The Perseids came in at double their usual rate, and the show was helped by Bermuda's remote location — far from the light pollution of extensive urban areas.

The particles of comet matter are surprisingly small — about the dimensions of seeds — but they hit the atmosphere at tremendous speed, at about 25,000mph, which generates the burning trail.

Of course, last night's display got going too late for many of us — the best crop of meteors came in after midnight, culminating at about 3am.

But if you missed the show, the Perseid season will continue for the next couple of weeks.

This year's display was especially good thanks to the planet Jupiter, whose gravitational pull happened to draw close to double the usual number of meteors into our planet's path.

The meteors are composed of dust and ice, and vaporise high above Earth in the intense heat of their descent.

Star search: a view of the meteor shower last night from Whale Bay Beach, Southampton (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Star search: a view of the meteor shower last night from Whale Bay Beach, Southampton (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Star search: a view of the meteor shower last night from Whale Bay Beach, Southampton (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published August 12, 2016 at 8:33 am (Updated August 12, 2016 at 8:33 am)

Perseid meteor shower lights up the skies

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