Sunday, July 29, 2007

Perseid Meteor Shower

The annual Perseid meteor shower will rain in the sights of sky watchers all on the Earth in two weeks on August 12. The best part of all is that there is a new moon on the 12th, meaning there will be no moonlight to obscure the view of the meteor shower.

The meteor shower is credited to the Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every year in August, the Earth moves through the debris left by the Comet's tail as it passes through our orbit. The small bits of the comet collide into the Earth's atmosphere at a whopping 132,000 mph so even the smallest objects light up in the sky.

Above: A Perseid fireball photographed August 12, 2006, by Pierre Martin of Arnprior, Ontario, Canada

The meteor shower starts at 9:00 to 10:00 on the 12th in the northeast(your local time) and you may see a a couple during an hour of sky watching. At the night unfolds, so will the amount of meteors. At around 2 AM of the 13th (still your local time) there may be dozens of meteors every hour. Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office estimates that at the shower's peak (before dawn), there will be one or two Perseids every minute.

Mars will also be observable. It will look like a bright red star in the northeast.

For optimal viewing of the meteors, it is best to be somewhere in the country or small suburbs where light pollution is not much of an interference.

Original Article: NASA

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