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Perseid meteor shower 2011 dazzles skygazers with celestial display

August 14, 2011 - London

NASA treated skygazers across the planet to a celestial display of the Perseid meteor shower overnight on Friday by broadcasting the event live.

At their most intense, the meteors can be seen at a rate of one per minute, although they will still be visible until 22 August.

But the emergence of a full moon has taken the shine off this year's show for some.

The spectacle is created when the Earth passes through a field of debris left by the Swift-Tuttle comet.

"The Perseids are one of the most reliable meteor showers and normally you can expect to see at least a few tens of meteors each hour if you're observing from a dark site," the BBC quoted Robert Massey, deputy executive secretary for the Royal Astronomical Society, as saying.

"This is also a great example of a free astronomical spectacle and something you can enjoy without needing any special equipment," he added.

On Friday, the International Meteor Organization (IMO) was recording an average of 25 shooting stars an hour, with the figure set to increase as the peak period approached.


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