The Isle of Wight is one of the best places to see meteor showers in the UK. With dazzling ‘Dark Sky’ sites scattered around the south of the island, thousands of stars are revealed here on clear, crisp nights. The Isle of Wight Dark Skies bring an ambience of peace and tranquillity to the island and play an important role in nature conservation – this is why inhabitants and local authorities are constantly working together to reduce light pollution in their Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
If you want to experience the breathtaking beauty of the Isle of Wight’s skies, you should visit its stargazing hotspots during one of the many meteor showers visible from the UK.
What is a meteor shower?
Meteor showers are celestial events during which a number of meteors appear to radiate from one point in the sky, causing a magical glow. On top of that, you will be able to spot ‘shooting stars’ during a meteor shower – these are in fact meteors streaking through the night sky as they burn up in the earth’s atmosphere. Meteor showers are caused by streams of cosmic debris, called meteoroids, entering the atmosphere as the earth is passing through them in its orbit. As the earth’s orbit is fairly regular, meteor showers recur on a predictable date each year.
The Perseid Meteor Shower
As the most popular meteor shower visible from the UK, the Perseid meteor shower produces 60 to 70 meteors per hour. It will next be visible on the night of 12–13 August 2019, radiating from the constellation Perseus. As the moon will be nearly full this year, it will be harder to spot the fainter meteors – however, you’ll be treated to plenty of bright ones on this night as well!
The Draconid Meteor Shower
The Draconid meteor shower will next be visible on 8 October 2019 and is expected to produce 10 meteors per hour. They will radiate from the constellation Draco, but you can expect to see ‘falling stars’ anywhere in the sky. As the Draconids are best spotted in the early evening, this is a child-friendly event.
The Leonid Meteor Shower
The Leonid meteor shower peaks on the night of 17–18 November 2019 and produces on average 15 meteors per hour. Every 33 years, though, the shower reaches a cyclonic peak that produces hundreds of meteors per hour in a spectacular whirlwind of falling stars! The next cyclonic peak is expected in 2034, so you’ll need to be patient to see it.
The Geminid Meteor Shower
The most extraordinary celestial event of the year is, without a doubt, the glorious Geminid meteor shower. Producing up to 120 multi-coloured meteors per hour at its peak, it is best seen after midnight in the night from 13–14 December 2019 from one of the Isle of Wight’s Dark Sky locations. The celestial glow can be seen radiating from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
To enjoy this year’s meteor showers while they’re at their most beautiful, come and see them from the Isle of Wight. Our latest infographic features insider tips on what to bring, where to go and how to stay safe.