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Moonlight to hamper viewing of this year's perseid meteors

A meteor streaking across the sky.

A meteor streaking across the sky.

The annual perseid meteor shower will be mostly mooned out this year.

The perseids are expected to peak next Friday – Saturday night when the moon will be full that night shining brightly dusk to dawn. Therefore, only the brightest meteors will show through the moonlit sky.

The Astronomical Society of Malta is holding a special activity at Dingli Cliffs (near near St. Magdalene Chapel) starting at 9:30 p.m. on Friday. Besides viewing the meteors, the society will give an explanation of the night sky. Telescopes will also be available.

The shooting stars can appear anywhere and everywhere in the sky. But if one traces each meteor's direction of flight backward far enough across the sky, one would find that an imaginary line that crosses a spot in the constellation perseus.

This is the shower's radiant, the perspective point from which all the perseids would appear to come if seen approaching from interplanetary space.

The perseid meteoroids are tiny, sand- to pea-size bits of rocky debris that were shed long ago by comet swift-tuttle. This comet, like others, is slowly disintegrating as it orbits the sun. Over the centuries, its crumbly remains have spread all along its 130-year orbit to form a sparse 'river of rubble' hundreds of millions of kilometres long.

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