Photos of bright Perseid meteors from 2018’s display

Two bright Perseid meteors
A montage of two bright Perseid meteors captured near the shower radiant on the night of maximum on the 12th/13th of August, 2018. Image credit: Paul Sutherland

The Perseid meteor shower is effectively over for another year, save for a few outlying particles in this stream of comet dust.

Reports from amateur astronomers show that 2018 was a good year for the Perseids, with maximum activity matching or even exceeding predictions.

A bright Perseid meteor drops over the sea on the morning of August 14th, from Walmer, Kent. Image credit: Paul Sutherland

Meteor rates on the night of maximum, August 12th/13th, reached a zenithal hourly rate (ZHR) of around 90 at the shower’s peak. This is the number that would be hypothetically seen by a single observer under perfectly dark skies, with the shower’s radiant directly overhead.

Though this is an ideal set of circumstances that few can actually experience, conditions were as good as they can get for Perseid maximum as far as the Moon is concerned.

It was a fine crescent, just past new, which set early in the evening. There were, therefore, no issues with moonlight throughout the night.

A Perseid leaves a long trail as it flies past the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus. Image credit: Paul Sutherland

Related: A simple guide to observing meteors

Observers with clear skies were rewarded with a fine display on the night of maximum. As many remarked, the following night, August 13th/14th, was very good for Perseids too, with rates remaining high.

A preliminary summary of observers’ combined results by the International Meteor Organization confirms that this was the case. Perseid meteors were still appearing at a rate (ZHR) or around 80 an hour as activity began to decline.

This writer set up cameras at Walmer, Kent, on the night of August 13th/14th to take continuous exposures and managed to capture several meteors. Some of the best are shown here. If you want to take your own pictures of shooting stars, then take a look at our guide on how to photograph a meteor shower.


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Two Perseids appear in this single 20-second exposure from Walmer, Kent. Image credit: Paul Sutherland
A Perseid meteor falls through Pegasus on the morning of August 14th in a view towards the west. Image credit: Paul Sutherland
This graph produced by the International Meteor Organization shows how the Perseids built to a peak with good displays on the nights of the 12th/13th and 13th/14th of August, 2018. Image credit: IMO