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LIVING IN SWITZERLAND

‘The probability of seeing a falling star is great’: How to watch Thursday night’s meteor shower in Switzerland

Thursday night’s Perseid meteor shower is expected to be the best in years due to favourable conditions. Here’s how you can catch it.

‘The probability of seeing a falling star is great’: How to watch Thursday night's meteor shower in Switzerland
Photo by Neil Rosenstech on Unsplash

Meteorologists are predicting clear skies tonight, Thursday, August 12th, allowing people across Switzerland to watch the Perseid meteor shower.

This phenomenon occurs when the Earth crosses the path of the debris left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet. 

This event occurs annually between, approximately, July 20th and August 25th, with a peak in intensity between August 11th and 15th. 

The most active night this year is August 12th to 13th.

Experts estimate that tonight around 110 shooting stars could be seen per hour, with two peaks at 10 pm and 3:37 am.

‘Cosmic dust’

The light show is a consequence of “cosmic dust”, not falling or shooting stars. 

Although it might sound like a bad Jamiroquai album or something you might be offered by a man wearing an unbuttoned shirt in a nightclub, “cosmic dust” is actually a scientific term.

“You can think of it as a collision between the earth and the cosmic dust trail,” explains Martin Jäger, from the Mirasteilas Observatory. 

Jäger told Südostschweiz “the swarm is interstellar ‘dirt’”

“You can think of it as a collision between the earth and the cosmic dust trail.”

“That is what stargazers from Earth ultimately perceive as a shooting star,” says Jäger.

How can I catch the meteor shower? 

For best visibility, choose a dark, unlit place and look towards the northeast and Perseus constellation.

Experts suggest you get out there early so as to make sure your eyes adjust to the light. 

If you need help, there are various sky map applications to download to your smartphone.

For a detailed explanation of how to best see the show, check out the following link. 

READ MORE: Top tips for watching the meteor shower in Switzerland

Markus Griesser, head of the Eschenberg observatory in Winterthur ZH, told Swiss tabloid Blick said you will be “able to see the falling stars from everywhere”. 

Griesser said the weather was important, as was proximity to the cities. 

“The probability that you will see a falling star is great,” says Griesser. But the weather also has to take part. “A cloudless view of the sky is ideal.”

“In cities, the shooting stars are often difficult to see because of the many artificial lights.”

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TRAVEL NEWS

Reader question: Do flights to and from Switzerland require face masks?

Face masks to curb the spread of Covid have been largely phased out in Switzerland, although they are still required on some international flights. Here’s what you need to know.

Reader question: Do flights to and from Switzerland require face masks?

Just over two years after the pandemic, the requirement to wear a Covid mask disappeared in Switzerland, almost as quickly as it was put in place. 

Masks had been compulsory in indoor public spaces in Switzerland since October 29th, 2020 until February 17th of this year, when the mask requirement was lifted except for public transport and health establishments.

And from April 1st, masks don’t have to be worn in any publicly-accessible places.

Travel

As travellers would be aware, Switzerland’s relaxed attitude to masks and other Covid measures is not replicated everywhere, with masks required on trains and on planes heading outside of Switzerland despite the April 1st change. 

Rules were however further relaxed at a European level in May. 

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

READ MORE: Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

While Switzerland is not an EU member, it is surrounded by EU countries and frequently takes part in EU alliances. 

What is the current rule as at end of May, 2022? 

At present, while rules have been relaxed at a European level, countries are free to put them in place domestically where they see fit. 

In that case, the rules of the destination country must be followed on flights. 

As Switzerland does not require masks, Swiss-bound flights will not have a mask mandate in place. 

Flying outward from Switzerland however may be different, depending on the rules in place in your destination country. 

On May 24th, Swiss news outlet Blick reported that Swiss airlines had not been asking passengers to wear masks on flights to Germany, despite Germany having a mask mandate in place. 

The German Infection Protection Act requires masks on all flights that land in Germany and is in place until September 23rd. 

Flights to France do not require masks, although flights to common tourist destinations like Spain and Greece will have mask rules in place. 

Italy, another popular holiday destination, requires FFP2 masks to be worn until June 15th at the earliest. 

Individual airlines also often have rules for masks in place. While Ryan Air has dropped most mask rules (other than those put in place by national regulatory systems), Easy Jet still requires masks on most journeys. 

Occasionally, individual airports can also have certain rules in place, so be sure to prepare for all possibilities and contact your airline for greater clarity.  

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