NOCTILUCENT Cloud Season is (probably) over. We shall talk no more about them until next year, writes STUART ATKINSON.

Instead, we'll talk about shooting stars, because this is one of the best times of year to see them. You can see a couple of shooting stars - or meteors to use the official astronomical term - on any clear night, but you have to be looking in the right place at the right time because they appear at random in the sky and are gone in the blink of an eye. However, a dozen or so times each year we know in advance that we will see more shooting stars than usual. This happens when Earth's orbit around the Sun takes it through a stream of dust left by a comet, and then we can expect to see dozens or more every hour for a couple of nights - a meteor shower.

Mid-August every year skywatchers look forward to the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks around August 12. This year the shower will be spoiled by a big bright Moon in the sky, drowning out the light of the fainter meteors, but we'll still see the bright ones.

So, any clear night between now and late August keep an eye open for shooting stars. And if it's clear on the nights of the 12th or 13th get out into the countryside, away from lights, and watch the sky after midnight. You might see some lovely bright meteors skipping across the sky, maybe even some bright enough to cast shadows.

Good luck!