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Annual meteor shower dazzles thousands of visitors to Israel’s south

NASA warns it’s possible that there may not be another impressive showing until 2024 because sky conditions will not be ideal for the Perseid peaks in 2022 and 2023

  • The Milky Way galaxy is pictured as a Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above the Negev desert near the Israeli city of Mitzpe Ramon, on August 13, 2021, during a yearly meteor shower (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
    The Milky Way galaxy is pictured as a Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above the Negev desert near the Israeli city of Mitzpe Ramon, on August 13, 2021, during a yearly meteor shower (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
  • People watch the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above  the Golan Heights, on August 13, 2021 (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
    People watch the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above the Golan Heights, on August 13, 2021 (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
  • People watch the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above the Golan Heights, on August 13, 2021 (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
    People watch the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above the Golan Heights, on August 13, 2021 (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
  • The Milky Way galaxy is pictured as a Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above the Negev desert near the Israeli city of Mitzpe Ramon, on August 13, 2021, during a yearly meteor shower, which occurs when the earth passes through the cloud of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
    The Milky Way galaxy is pictured as a Perseid meteor streaks across the sky above the Negev desert near the Israeli city of Mitzpe Ramon, on August 13, 2021, during a yearly meteor shower, which occurs when the earth passes through the cloud of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. (Photo by Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
  • Campers gather as the Milky Way galaxy rises in the night sky above the Negev desert near the Israeli city of Mitzpe Ramon, on August 13, 2021. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
    Campers gather as the Milky Way galaxy rises in the night sky above the Negev desert near the Israeli city of Mitzpe Ramon, on August 13, 2021. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
  • People watch the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above  the Golan Heights, on August 13, 2021 (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
    People watch the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above the Golan Heights, on August 13, 2021 (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Thousands of Israelis converged on the southern Negev Desert on Thursday evening to witness the annual spectacular meteor shower.

The Perseid meteor shower occurs as the Earth passes through the debris of the Swift-Tuttle comet.

NASA has warned that it’s possible that there may not be another impressive meteor shower until 2024 because sky conditions will not be ideal for the peaks of the phenomenon in 2022 and 2023.

“With a full moon and lower meteor activity during the Perseids’ peak in 2022, and a waning crescent high in the sky for 2023, this might be your best chance to do some summer skywatching for a few years,” the US space agency said.

NASA estimated that sky-watchers in the Northern Hemisphere who were located far from light pollution could see over 40 Perseids per hour.

The southern town of Mitzpe Ramon, which lies at the edge of the Ramon crater in the Negev Desert, and offers some of the best views of the night sky in the country, is a popular site for star-gazers of every type, from professional astronomers to happy amateurs.

Campers gather as the Milky Way galaxy rises in the night sky above the Negev Desert near the Israeli city of Mitzpe Ramon, on August 13, 2021. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

Others found sites in the north of the country to star-gaze, far away from towns and villages.

The Nature and Parks Authority announced early Thursday evening that all of its campsites in areas for optimal viewing were full.

People watch the stars during a meteor shower in the skies above the Golan Heights, on August 13, 2021 (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Much of Israel suffers from light pollution, as the tiny country has little true wilderness away from civilization.

The Negev Desert in the country’s south is mostly free from habitation and Mitzpe Ramon, on the edge of the wilderness, has become a favorite spot for local star enthusiasts.

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