When amateur astronomers refer to the glorious 12th, they are not contemplating shooting grouse - they are, however, anticipating shooting stars.
The shooting stars in question are the Perseids, perhaps the best known and most widely observed meteor shower, which may be seen over Whitby for the next week.
Perseids are associated with comet Swift Tuttle which was discovered in 1862 and takes approximately 130 years to circle the Sun. With each pass the comet leaves behind fresh material, of which Earth encounters various strands every August, giving rise to the Perseids,
The names of all meteor showers are linked to the constellation, or particular region of sky from which the meteors seem to emanate from, a position known as the radiant of the shower. The Perseid radiant lies to the NW of Perseus and varies slightly in position over the timescale the shower is active.
Particularly bright examples often leave behind persistent ionisation trains in their wake, the classic shooting star.
Perseid activity is highest from August 8 to 15, normally peaking in the early morning hours of the 12th (Wed).
The best observed rates are likely to be seen late in the night of Aug 12-13. However, good rates are also likely during the nights of Aug 10-11, 11-12 and 13-14. Expect to witness up to 30-40 per hour in the early morning hours, with 10-20 visible during the late evening hours.
Whitby and District Astronomical Society will be holding a Perseid star party on Wednesday (Aug 12) at Archery Green (West Cliff) next to the boating lake from 9.30pm. Bring a folding chair a warm drink.