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Stargazing: Top tips for watching the Perseid meteor shower in Sweden

Stargazing: Top tips for watching the Perseid meteor shower in Sweden
The Perseids in Spain in 2014. Photo: AP Photo/Andres Kudacki
The Perseid meteor shower is a yearly event in the Northern Hemisphere. The Local fills you in on everything you need to know if you’re planning to watch it in Sweden.

First, what are meteors?

Comet trash. They leave a dust-filled trail, and Earth speeds through their path every year on our way around the sun. Perseid is one of the brightest meteor showers of the year in our part of the world. The tiny space particles that light up the sky come from the comet Swift-Tuttle. The debris is called Perseids because it comes from the same direction as the constellation Perseus, found in the north-eastern part of the sky.

What’s the best time to watch and where should you go?

In 2021, the meteor shower got under way on August 10th and was set to peak Wednesday to Friday. Prime viewing times are usually within the hours of 11pm and 4.30am, so be ready for a long night or an extra early morning.

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In terms of location, it’s recommended you stay away from city lights. Try to find an open area unobstructed by buildings and trees to give you the best view. Southern Sweden generally offers the best views, since the night sky is darker there this time of the year.

Will the weather cooperate?

Urm, that’s a tough one. When you’re out and on the prowl for shooting stars you’d prefer perfectly clear black skies. The weather forecast for southern Sweden is currently a mix of sun and clouds, so it’s hard to predict whether or not you’re going to get lucky.

But don’t let that put you off, you can still watch the dusty lights shoot through the clouds, and given the likelihood of more than a hundred meteors per hour, you’d regret letting the weather get in your way.

What should you bring?

The beauty of meteor-watching is that you don’t need any tools, your eyes are enough. And since this is Sweden, don’t forget to take a warm jacket with you.

To watch the sky in comfort, you’ll want to take a fold-up chair or a blanket so you can sit or lie down, because astronomy is a waiting game. In fact, why not have a midnight picnic. Stargazing requires patience, so you might as well have something to do while you wait on the streaming lights to make their way to Earth. But make sure to keep your eyes on the sky. You don’t want to miss what you came for while wolfing down that sandwich.

The perfect date

It’s not a bad idea to also bring a friend or that special someone to share this phenomenon with. It could be the ultimate bonding experience, and you’ll have an excuse spout out various facts about the Perseids while your significant other looks suitably impressed by your superior knowledge.  

If you happen to be single, don’t fret. Ask your friends to come, or if you’d rather go alone, take a book with you for company. Just make sure to keep an eye on the skies.

If you enjoy meeting new people, there are astronomy clubs hosting meteor-watching parties in, for example, Malmö (outside and with physical distance between attendees, due to the coronavirus pandemic). Have a look for your local clubs online.

Article by The Local’s contributor Saina Behnejad in 2016, and updated in 2021.