Perseid Meteor Shower

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Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Roddy15 on Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:36 am

The annual Perseid meteor shower is already putting on an excellent show, and the celestial fireworks have yet to peak. The main event is tonight. Meanwhile, a delightfully tight configuration of planets graces the evening sky. Rarely has there been a better time to go out, look up and enjoy easy-to-watch cosmic spectacles. Across the Northern Hemisphere, the best time to watch the Perseid meteor shower will be tonight through the pre-dawn hours local time Friday, regardless of where you live. Weather permitting, patient skywatchers could see a shooting star every minute or so. The Perseids are always reliable and sometimes rather spectacular. Only bad weather or bright moonlight can put a damper on the event, and this year the moon a thin crescent that will set right after the sun is not a factor. Astronomers are expecting the best, and skywatchers around the globe are seeing encouraging, sometimes explosive signs. Several of the exploding meteors, called bolides, have been spotted. "On Saturday night, one bolide lit up the field,"
said Steve Lieber of the Astronomical Society of Long Island. "Looked
like a flash going off. Saw the vapor trail for 15 to 20 seconds after that."
Vapor trails are striking and sometimes colorful streams, looking
like smoke, that can linger after particularly bright meteors. Most last just a
few seconds. "What has struck me so far about this year are not so much
the overall number of meteors people have seen, but the number of reported
fireball meteors," said SPACE.com's skywatching columnist, Joe Rao. "It
seems there have been more such sightings than usual this year. Hopefully that
will keep up right on through the maximum of the shower."

Meanwhile, Venus, Mars and Saturn are clustered in the evening sky and will be joined tonight and Friday by the graceful crescent moon. Anyone with clear skies can easily spot the foursome looming above the western horizon as soon as darkness falls. But wait, there's more. In the predawn all week, Jupiter is a brilliant jewel high
in the southern sky and impossible to miss nothing nearby is even close to
being as bright.

How the meteor shower works

The Perseids are bits of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which has laid down
several streams of debris, each in a slightly different location, over the
centuries as it orbits the sun. Every August, Earth passes through these debris streams, which spread out over time. Most meteors are the size of sand grains, with a few as large as a pea. They vaporize as they enter Earth's atmosphere, creating brilliant streaks across the sky. Earth began entering the Perseid stream in late July. Over the past several nights, increasing numbers of shooting stars, including some dazzling fireballs, have been reported. Rates of around 20 per hour (3 per minute) were already being noted early Tuesday, according to the International Meteor Organization. That bodes well for a spectacular show at the peak.
The Perseids appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus, which rises high in
the sky around midnight and is nearly overhead by dawn. As with most meteor
showers, the hours between midnight and daybreak are typically the best time to
watch, because that's when the side of Earth you are on is rotating into the
direction of Earth's travels through space, so meteors are being "scooped
up" by the atmosphere at higher rates, much like a car's windshield ends
the lives of more bugs than does the rear bumper.
Astronomers expect 80 meteors per hour and perhaps even more in short bursts of up to 15 minutes or so. Rates will be much lower for those in urban areas.

When and how to watch

But the shower's peak, when Earth is moving through the densest part of the debris
trail, favors tonight through dawn. "If skies are clear, skywatchers
can expect to see dozens of meteors per hour between midnight and dawn,"
according to the editors of StarDate magazine.

The best location is far from city and suburban lights. Scan as much of the sky as
possible. The meteors can appear anywhere, heading in any direction. If you
trace their paths backward, they'll all point to the constellation Perseus. (Meteors
that don't point to Perseus are not part of the shower. They're called
background meteors and are the sort you can see on any August night.)

People in locations that can become chilly should dress warmer than they think
necessary, to allow for prolonged viewing.

Seasoned skywatchers advise using a blanket or lounge chair for comfort, so you can lie back and look up for long periods. Allow at least 15 minutes for your eyes to
fully adjust to the darkness. Then expect meteors to be sporadic: You might see
two in a row, or several minutes could go by between shooting stars.

"Relax, be patient and let your eyes adapt to the dark," says Sky & Telescope editor in chief Robert Naeye. "With a little luck you'll see a shooting star every minute or so on average."

Avid meteor watchers may try scanning the northeastern horizon from 9 p.m. to 11
p.m. local time (your local time, wherever you are) today for Perseids that
graze the horizon. These earthgrazers, as they are called, are rare and remarkable.

"Earthgrazers are meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping across the surface of a pond," says Bill Cooke of
the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, in
Huntsville, Ala. "They are long, slow and colorful among the most
beautiful of meteors."

If you wish to spend just one stretch of time meteor-watching, set your alarm for
around 3 a.m. Friday and spend an hour or two gazing skyward.

Planet spotting

While the best meteor-watching will be late night through daybreak, it's well worth
going outside just after sunset tonight and Friday. Venus is so bright in the western
sky you can't miss it, and a thin crescent moon will be just below it this
evening. As darkness falls, Mars and Saturn will come into view. If you have
hazy skies or live in an urban area, you may need binoculars to see Mars and
Saturn.

These worlds just points of light to the naked eye shine by reflected sunlight,
unlike stars, which make their own light. If there is turbulence in the
atmosphere, you may notice the stars twinkling, but likely not the planets.

While the planets and our moon are all very far apart in space, they appear lined up
this week thanks to a special circumstance of orbital mechanics. The outer
planets, Mars and Saturn, take much longer to go around the sun than the inner planet Venus. Venus "laps" the outer planets frequently, and it never strays
far from the sun from our vantage point.

Right now, as we look off into space in the evening, we're seeing Venus off to one
side of the sun, and Mars and Saturn behind it and well beyond the sun.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
DK was telling me he saw meteors (shooting stars as he called them) well that is what he saw the Perseid Meteor Shower. Now I'm big into Astronomy and I went out at around midnight and found it was just clouds but they glowed when meteors where flying by. This will be happening for next 4-5 days so look out. There are also many other meteor showers this one is second on my ratings there is a better one in Winter when the sky is jet black and then they are at there best.

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Darknight1101 on Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:43 am

i watched it last night, it was just incredible, we saw satellites and everything!
I managed to see venus above my house Razz

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Sim533 on Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:45 am

I saw them, I really like Astronomy as you do, roddy! It was fantastic to see them flying by. Smile

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Darknight1101 on Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:48 am

i agree sim Very Happy
DD101 is pretty into astronomy as well.
Hey have you guys heard of the hubble telescope?

B.O.T
I'm definitely gonna look out for saturn tonight

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Roddy15 on Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:56 am

Yep heard of it. Saturn I have seen at least 7-8 times through my telescope.

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Sim533 on Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:57 am

TheRoddy15 wrote:Yep heard of it. Saturn I have seen at least 7-8 times through my telescope.
That was the first thing I ever viewed in my telescope...

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Roddy15 on Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:02 am

I viewed the moon.

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Micah477 on Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:50 pm

So is it over? D=

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Roddy15 on Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:45 am

Well I looked out on 13/08/2010 at around midnight and there seemed to be none so it might be but keep looking last year it lasted around a week.

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Sim533 on Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:48 am

TheRoddy15 wrote:Well I looked out on 13/08/2010 at around midnight and there seemed to be none so it might be but keep looking last year it lasted around a week.
I also looked yesterday, but saw only one.

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by BioK on Wed Aug 18, 2010 11:38 pm

Sim533 wrote:
TheRoddy15 wrote:Yep heard of it. Saturn I have seen at least 7-8 times through my telescope.
That was the first thing I ever viewed in my telescope...

My my...what do you see? A blob?

We can't see anything here in the west, so I pretty much missed out

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Roddy15 on Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:56 am


It's a fireball in a way. When it is cloudy you can see the clouds glow.

Also a local astronomy club has sent an email saying you can still see an odd 1 or 2 until friday so keep looking out.

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Re: Perseid Meteor Shower

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