Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Perseid Meteor Shower - SATURDAY

With all the events going on of late perhaps you didn’t realize that the Annual Perseid Meteor Shower is at its strongest this Saturday the 11th. Or perhaps you have already caught it as it has been going on for a while. Considered the 2nd most visible and enjoyable of the annual meteor showers (the Geminid is the 1st) it is easily viewable to the naked eye though there will most certainly be viewing parties at local observatories, colleges as well as ones hosted by amateur astronomy groups everywhere.

This meteor shower is a yearly event, tonight is just the best night to view it this visit. The actual peak is in the early hours of Sunday morning before the Sun rises and should give us an average of one to two meteors per minute. The ranking #1 meteor shower, the Geminid is not expected to make its yearly visit until December and has more meteors per minute, probably why it is reining champion. Then again it comes in December and you can lie back on a lawn chair and comfortably view the Perseid without requiring a wool coat!

Although the Perseid Meteor Shower has been going on all this week, now that the moon is entering the waning crescent phase the night sky is darker, and the meteors stand out. From grains of sand to the mere pebble to perhaps as big as a walnut, the Perseid Meteor Shower is full of what looks like ‘shooting stars’ even if it is merely debris that travels space; left from fragments of the comet Swift-Tuttle breaking away as she flies through the galaxy. (Perseid hails from the Perseus Constellation.)

FINALLY– Fun Fact: Meteors seem to come in different colors. Fact is it depends on what atmospheric gases the meteor goes through.

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