Saturday, August 04, 2007

Annual Perseid meteor shower is coming soon

Be sure and treat yourself to this natural wonder:

The 2007 peak of the Perseid meteor shower
[...] It’s expected to display the greatest number of meteors Sunday morning (August 12), late Sunday night and Monday morning (August 13) before dawn. But you’ll see some Perseids Saturday (August 11) before dawn, too.

The moon is new on Sunday, or between the Earth and sun. This new moon will leave the night sky dark all this weekend for the Perseid meteors. These meteors are named for the constellation Perseus the Hero. If you trace the paths of the meteors backwards, they seem to stream from this constellation.

You don’t need to identify Perseus to enjoy the meteor shower. The Perseids are an especially rich and dependable meteor shower. They shoot all across the sky – often leaving persistent trains – and occasionally lighting things up with bright fireballs. To watch the show, find a dark, open sky. Get away from city lights, and give your eyes at least 20 minutes to adapt to the dark. The Perseid shower favors northern hemisphere skywatchers. Again, the best time to watch: Sunday morning, late Sunday night and Monday morning before dawn. At its peak, the Perseids typically produce 60 or more meteors per hour. [...]

(bold emphasis mine) Last year, we watched for it and it was quite a show, although the moonrise made for less than optimal conditions. Still, I had never before witnessed such large, streaking meteors. And so many, so often! The viewing conditions this year promise to be even better than last year, if there are no clouds or fog.

If you have not seen the Perseid Meteor shower before, treat yourself this year and mark your calendar. It's really worth it! No photograph can do it justice; you must see it in action for yourself.

Dark sky to better view of Aug. meteor shower
[...] The Moon will be out of the way, leaving dark skies for good viewing as Earth plunges through an ancient stream of comet debris. Little bits, most no larger than sand grains, will vaporize in Earth's atmosphere, creating sometimes-dramatic "shooting stars."

"It's going to be a great show," said Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. "The Moon is new on August 12, which means no moonlight, dark skies and plenty of meteors."


"The August Perseids are among the strongest of the readily observed annual meteor showers, and at maximum activity nominally yield 90 or 100 meteors per hour," said Joe Rao,'s Skywatching columnist. "However, observers with exceptional skies often record even larger numbers." [...]

(bold emphasis mine) See the rest of the article for viewing tips.

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