We all love spending our summer days outside. Soaking up the sun’s glorious warmth, exploring new places and seeking out all kinds of adventures.
But what about the summer nights?
The summer fun certainly doesn’t have to stop just because the sun’s set.
When the sun has finally sunk below the horizon and revealed an inky black sky, dotted with thousands of twinkling stars, the stage is set for one of summer’s most spectacular natural events.
There’s nothing quite like the magic of spotting a shooting star. Just a glimpse of one brief blaze, and you’re hooked, eager to find your next one.
These bright trails of light that shoot so vibrantly across our night skies aren’t actually stars. In fact, they are tiny pieces of comet dust and ice- sometimes no bigger than a grain of sand.
We see them as they burn up in the earth’s atmosphere, streaking across the sky as nature’s own firework display.
So, what could be better than sharing a stargazing experience with your family?
It’s the perfect excuse to grab some comfy blankets and head out together to enjoy the balmy summer evenings. Especially as the summer hosts one of the largest of the U. K’s meteor showers: The Perseids.
Perseids Meteor Shower
This meteor shower kicks off in July (around the 17th) and lasts until around August 24th so there are plenty of opportunities to spend an evening star gazing -although your best chances of witnessing this ultimate shooting star show are on the August 12th and 13th, when the Perseids are at their peak.
During its pinnacle, up to 80 shooting stars an hour can be seen hurtling through the night sky. That’s a lot shooting stars to look out for – so keep your eyes peeled!
The best times to watch the Perseids are around 1am – 4am in the morning. A late night but it’s one summer event certainly worth staying up late for. It’s also the perfect excuse to head outdoors, pitch a tent and spend a night under the stars. You could even head out family camping trip to dark sky location that offers much better star gazing opportunities.
Or even a trip out to the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which has some fantastically dark night skies, would offer some ideal shooting star watching opportunities.
To get the most from your sky gazing experience it pays to be prepared. Here’s a few top tips to hopefully increase your shooting star success:
· Check the weather – in order to get the best views of this natural phenomena you need a clear, calm night with no clouds. Clouds obstruct the view of the stars which isn’t great for star gazing. It’s also a good idea to check the moon phase; a bright moon will produce too much light and make it harder to spot the meteor shower.
· Limit Light Sources – Our eyes need some time to adjust to the dark. To help them get accustomed it’s a good idea to turn off any unnatural light sources, houselights, torches etc around 20 minutes before you start star spotting.
· Get comfy - just because the summer days are warm, doesn’t mean the nights always are, plus waiting for shooting stars can take a while. Sleeping bags, pillows, coats and jumpers are a good idea to stay cosy. Don’t forget the flask of hot chocolate either.
Hopefully your family’s celestial explorations are fruitful and filled with “wow’s” and “woah, there’s one’s” and if there not, well you’ve found the perfect way to make your summer days last even longer.
Jeni is a wildlife and nature writer with a passion for British wildlife. She aims to encourage others to seek out and experience the nature that surrounds us on a day to day basis. There is wildness everywhere, we just need to learn how to look for it.
Find more of Jeni’s writing at: www.seekingwildsights.co.uk
Or follow her on Instagram: @seekingwildsights.