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Perseid meteor shower to be visible over Finnish skies

The phenomenon will be especially evident over Finland on Friday night and Saturday morning.

The Perseid meteor shower is particularly popular with photographers, as up 70 shooting stars can be expected per hour. Image: EPA/DANIEL REINHARDT

The Perseid meteor shower — an annual celestial event which can produce up to 70 shooting stars per hour — will be visible over the skies of Finland on Friday night and Saturday morning.

"The weather forecast looks pretty good this year, with clear skies all night between Friday and Saturday. You should head out into the field as soon as the sun has set," advised Kari A. Kuure, vice-president of the Tampere Astronomical Society.

The best chance of seeing the Perseids is at night, between 1am and 2am, when the skies are still dark. However, this weekend there is a full moon, which may prevent the dimmest of the shooting stars from being seen.

"Fortunately, there are always a few slightly larger pieces within the meteor shower. At least the brightest meteors are easily visible here in Tampere," Kuure said.

Perseidien tähdenlentoparven meteoreja

The Perseids are considered to be among the most popular meteor showers, due to the excellent timing — during the warm and dark nights of August — and the guaranteed activity.

Skygazing enthusiasts are advised to especially look at the sky between the east and the northeast, but the shooting stars could be visible in any part. For this reason, it is also advisable to view the meteor shower with a naked eye, as the field of vision would be too narrow with binoculars, for example.

The shooting stars also tend to be very short-lived phenomena, lasting from between half a second to a second.

"There's not much time to talk to a friend, as you have to stare fixedly at the sky. By the time you see a meteor, it's already gone. And if you tell your neighbour about it, your neighbour won't see anything," Kuure said.

He added that it is advisable to get as far away from urban areas as possible, to avoid light pollution.

The 2,000-year-old show

The source of the Perseid meteor shower is a comet called Swift-Tuttle.

Like other comets, Swift-Tuttle leaves crumbs in its orbit as it circles the Sun. As the Earth's orbit passes, the comet's dust heats up in the Earth's atmosphere and causes light streaks called shooting stars.

The Perseid meteor shower has been observed by skygazers for over two thousand years. In Europe, the shower is also known as the "Tears of St Laurence", a reference to the Catholic saint who died in ancient Rome.