When to observe the spectacular Perseids meteor shower in southern Spain in August

Image of the Perseids as previously seen from Calar Alto. Credit: Alicia Lozano

August is the month to observe the spectacular Perseids meteor shower in the skies above Spain.

August is a special month for lovers of astronomy. Coinciding with the last supermoon of the year, this week the sky will light up with the spectacular Perseids or Tears of San Lorenzo. As reported by NASA on Tuesday, August 9, this is one of the most incredible showers of shooting stars that occur each year in the lunar calendar.

They are popularly known as the Tears of San Lorenzo, due to the proximity of their peak of activity to August 10, the day of the martyr’s feast. According to Christian tradition, parallelism is sought in these stars and they seek to evoke the tears that the martyr shed when he was burned alive at the stake.

Because they always take place in summer, a season in which atmospheric conditions are normally favourable for astronomical observation, the Perseids are a firm favourite among experienced stargazers.

This year, they coincide with the Sturgeon Full Moon. According to NASA: “This year’s Perseid peak will see the worst possible circumstances for observers. The Moon is much brighter than anything else in the night sky, and it will wipe out all but the brightest Perseids as they pass through our atmosphere and burn up high”.

The name Perseids has its origin in the Perseus constellation because most of the shooting stars in this display come from that constellation. They are particles left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle that cross paths in Earth’s orbit. These particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 200km/h and temperatures of over 1,000 ºC, producing that characteristic light show.

NASA explains that this star show will be visible until August 24, but, they can be best observed in the sky over Malaga province on August 11 and 12. They will be quite visible again from August 12 to 13. During these days, between 80 and 200 shooting stars should be visible per hour. 

As pointed out by NASA, before and after these dates, it will be still possible to observe the meteor shower, although with less intensity. NASA also assures that: “the best time to see the Perseids is during the hours before dawn”, although they can also be seen at dusk, starting at 10pm.

Like all astronomical phenomena, they can be observed from a sufficiently dark place, with little light pollution. 

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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