Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tonight's The Night! (Perseids!)

Around 11:00 PM tonight, the show of the summer begins! Skygazers will be treated to the annual show of shooting stars from the Perseids meteor shower.

The name "Perseids" is derived from the fact that the annual celestial show appears to originate from the part of the night sky occupied by the constellation Perseus. This constellation appears in the northern sky - look to the northeast if you are in North America.

The Perseids meteor shower is caused by a collision of the earth's atmosphere with debris leftover from a comet. As the earth crosses the orbital path of the Swift-Tuttle comet each August, it blasts through the comet's debris field, and little pieces of that debris burn up in our planet's atmosphere, causing the "shooting stars" which delight stargazers every summer.
The constellation Perseus

If you are lucky enough to be at a distance from city lights, and can sit out under the stars between 11:00 PM tonight and dawn tomorrow morning, just do it! You won't be disappointed. The show gets better as the pre-dawn hours approach, due to the tilt of the earth. If you can't stay up late, set your alarm clock and get out there before sunrise tomorrow morning.

At it's peak (tonight and tomorrow) the Perseids can produce more than one shooting star a minute - 90-100 per hour. It is going to be quite a show!


If you cannot get away from city lights, please take a moment to enjoy this wonderful video produced by stargazer Henry Jun Wah Lee at Joshua Tree National Park, August 10-15, 2010.


No comments:

Post a Comment