Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Perseids Meteor shower has returned!

August 11 – 12 is the climax of the annual Perseid meteor shower. But any night this week will provide a good chance of seeing some action - weather permitting of course.    The best time for viewing is after midnight to the predawn hours.  Find  a spot away from a lot of ground lights and look to the northeast.  If there is a lot of ground light, look to the darkest part of the sky.   Like most meteor showers those with patience see the most. The meteors tend to come in batches out the constellation Perseus, hence the name. However, they can appear in any part of the sky but all their tails will point back to Perseus.  Although the moon will be present, this year it will be waning crescent (a sliver that is getting smaller ) so moonlight won't hinder the show.  The Perseids occur every year as the Earth passes through a stream of dust particles and debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle. These particles hit the earth’s atmosphere at speeds up to 140,000 mph and become heated to form bright streaks across the sky – shooting stars.  The shower is at its peak or climax when the earth passes through the middle of the tail debris.  For those willing to stay up later or get up extra early, there is an added treat.  The moon will be passing the brightest planets Venus and Jupiter in the predawn eastern sky.  So get out a blanket, lay on your back and enjoy the show.  If you would like more information about this event, attend our 8PM program on Sat. Aug 11 at New Pond Farm, West Redding.  Picture from BBC and Sky and Telescope (2011).

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