Look up: Perseid meteor shower set to peak tonight

If the skies are clear, no special equipment will be needed to view the shooting stars

Look up: Perseid meteor shower set to peak tonight

Picture by: Manu Fernandez/AP/Press Association Images

People are being encouraged to look skywards tonight as a meteor shower reaches its peak.

Earth has been passing through the path of Comet Swift–Tuttle's debris for several weeks, but the associated Perseid meteor shower will peak this evening and overnight.

The meteor shower is an annual treat for astronomers, but NASA has suggested that Earth could experience a "closer encounter than usual" this year.

No special equipment will be needed to view the shooting stars in the sky.

Picture by: Tom White/PA Archive/PA Images

Forecasts suggest there could be cloudy conditions in parts of Ireland tonight, which could hamper visibility.

The position of the moon could also affect the chances of anyone hoping to catch some shooting stars.

NASA's Bill Cooke told Space.com: "Rates will be about half what they would be normally, because of the bright moonlight.

"Instead of 80 to 100, [there will be] 40 to 50 per hour. And that's just because the moon's going to wash out the fainter ones."

However, with the peak expected at around 5pm, if the skies do clear there could still be an opportunity to see a shooting star once or twice every minute.

Astronomy Ireland is encouraging any amateur stargazers to keep notes of how many shooting stars they do spot tonight and during the remainder of this year's Perseids.