Stargazers’ delight at cosmic display

Amateur astronomers gathered at observatories in north Northumberland to see the year’s most spectacular meteor display over the weekend.

The Perseid meteor shower, so named because they originate in the Perseus constellation, can be seen every August, and occurs when cosmic dust burns up in the earth’s atmosphere.

They are visible throughout the Northern Hemisphere, but the low level of light pollution in north Northumberland make it a prime viewing spot.

Stargazers from the Northumberland Astronomical Society (Nastro) met at Hauxley’s observatory late on Saturday night to watch the show.

Nastro chairman Adrian Jannetta said that the clouds parted just enough to get a good view of the meteors.

“People brought deckchairs and recliners and lay back, and we ordered pizza, and just watched the sky,” he said.

“We saw enough to keep us happy.”

A similar event also took place at Kielder Observatory, but poor visibility meant meteor-watchers were left disappointed.

The Perseids are one of many cosmic showers occurring throughout the year. Major events still to come in 2012 include the Orionids in late October and the Geminids in December.