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WEATHER

Spanish skies to see best meteor shower in years

Look up to the night skies as this year’s Perseid meteor shower promises to be quite a show. Here’s everything you need to know for a night of stargazing.

Spanish skies to see best meteor shower in years
This year's Perseids promises to be one of the best. Archive photo: AFP

When: 

The shower has been active since the 13th of July and will continue until the end of August. But activity will peak on Wednesday night (August 12-13th), the day before a new moon, meaning the skies will be darker than usual and the shooting stars more visible.

“A very dark place, a cloudless sky, and a little patience is all you need for good stargazing,” writes the director of Spain's National Astronomical Observatory Rafael Bachiller in El Mundo who predicts you could see up to one hundred shooting stars in an hour.

Stay up late or even rise early as some of the best showings occur just before dawn.

Where:

The meteorite shower is visible across the northern hemisphere but will be especially good in southern Europe.

Find a place as far away from light pollution as possible so head to wide open spaces away from the city. Mountains and beaches are perfect. Then face northeast and enjoy the show.

How:

The shooting stars are visible to the naked eye so no need for binoculars or a telescope but allow yourself to become accustomed to the darkness which usually takes around 20 minutes. And have patience as the shower comes in spurts – nothing for a while and then a sudden flurry of activity.

What it is:

In Spanish the phenomenon is known as Lágrimas de San Lorenzo – the tears of St Lawrence – because the best viewing nights often occur around the  feast day on August 10th of the Spanish saint martyred in 258 AD.

Shooting stars are caused by tiny flecks of comet hitting the earth’s atmosphere. The Perseids occur annually when the orbit of Earth crosses into the tail of the comet Swift-Tuttle.

The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus because that is where the meteors seem to originate from when looking up at the sky.

Nasa advises: “If you see one meteor shower this year, make it August's Perseids or December's Geminids. The Perseids feature fast and bright meteors that frequently leave trains, and in 2015 there will be no moonlight to upstage the shower.”

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WEATHER

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings

Nine Spanish regions were put on alert on Tuesday for heavy snow, rain and strong winds, with the country's traffic authorities calling for people taking holidays this long weekend to head home early to avoid the worst of the bad weather.

Spain urges holidaymakers to head home early due to snow and strong wind warnings
Vehicles stuck in traffic due to a heavy snowfall near Burgos, northern Spain, in March 2021. Photo: Cesar Manso/AFP

Aragón, Castilla y León, Catalonia, Navarra and the Basque Country will be on orange alert from Tuesday for snow storms, while Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja and La Comunidad Valenciana are on the less-severe yellow alert, Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) announced.

A slight increase in temperatures will increase the risk of avalanches in the Pyrenees and the central Cantabrian mountain range.

Some roads in the north of the country are already being affected by snow and are being restricted to some traffic such as trucks and heavy vehicles.

Spain’s traffic authority (DGT) called on residents in the northern half of the country to return early from the puente (long weekend) marked by the public holidays of December 6 and 8, ahead of heavy snow forecast for Wednesday.

Of the 108 main roads affected by the heavy snow in Spain, almost half of them are in the northeastern region Aragón.

Aragón, Catalonia and Navarra are at risk of avalanches, according to data from Aemet, while a storm warning has been issued for the coastal areas of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Catalonia and the Basque country.

Heavy rainfall is expected in Galicia, extending to Cantabria and the western Pyrenees.

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