Prepare for the Perseids – Sky & Telescope

Contacts:Diana Hannikainen, Observing Editor855-638-5388 x22100, [email protected]

Gary Seronik, Consulting [email protected]

Note to Editors/Producers: This launch is accompanied by excessive-high quality graphics; see the finish of this launch for the photos and hyperlinks to obtain.

The Perseid meteor bathe, an annual celestial occasion beloved by thousands and thousands of skywatchers round the world, is about to make its annual return to the evening sky. It’s predicted to succeed in its peak late on the evening of Tuesday, August 11th, and early on Wednesday, August 12th. Head out after sundown and catch as many meteors as you’ll be able to earlier than the Moon rises shortly after midnight (native time).

Begin watching for meteors quickly after night twilight ends. By then the bathe’s radiant, its perspective level of origin in the constellation Perseus, has risen above the northeastern horizon. The few Perseids that seem this early might be spectacularly lengthy “earthgrazers” that skim alongside the high of the environment. The larger the radiant, the extra meteors you may see — so when Perseus is larger in the northeast, extra meteors will seem throughout the sky.

The final-quarter Moon rises shortly after midnight and its gentle will wash out fainter meteors. But don’t despair: The Perseids are an extended-lived occasion and you must see meteors — although fewer in quantity — for a number of nights earlier than and after the evening of the peak.

To get pleasure from the Perseids, you want no gear however your eyes. Find a darkish spot away from vivid lights with a large-open view throughout if potential. Bring a reclining garden chair or a floor fabric so you’ll be able to lie again and watch the sky in consolation. Bundle up in blankets or a sleeping bag, each for mosquito shielding and for heat; clear nights can develop surprisingly chilly. Next, chill out, be affected person, and let your eyes adapt to the darkness.

“These ‘shooting stars’ can appear anywhere and everywhere in the sky — you don’t have to look at the radiant to see them,” advises Diana Hannikainen (pronounced HUHN-ih-KY-nen), Sky & Telescope’s Observing Editor. “So the best direction to watch is wherever your sky is darkest, usually straight up.” Faint Perseids seem as tiny, fast streaks. Occasional brighter ones would possibly sail throughout the heavens for a number of seconds and go away a quick practice of glowing smoke.

When you see a meteor, observe its path backward. If you finally come to the constellation Perseus — which climbs larger in the northeastern sky as the evening progresses — then you definitely’ve simply witnessed a Perseid. Occasionally you would possibly spot an intruder. The weaker Delta Aquariid and Kappa Cygnid showers are additionally lively throughout Perseid season, and there are generally a number of random, “sporadic” meteors. All of those observe again to different components of the sky. It’s a enjoyable train to trace these again to their radiants: If it’s not in Perseus, they’re not Perseids!

Any gentle air pollution will reduce down the numbers seen. But the brightest few meteors shine proper via gentle air pollution. In truth, a NASA evaluation of all-sky photos taken from 2008 to 2013 exhibits that the Perseids ship extra vivid meteors (people who outshine any star) than another annual meteor bathe.

How and Why

Meteors are brought on by tiny, sandgrain- to pea-dimension bits of dusty particles streaking into the high of Earth’s environment roughly 80 miles (130 km) up. Each Perseid particle zips in at 37 miles per second, creating a fast, white-scorching streak of superheated air. The nuggets in Grape Nuts cereal are a detailed match to the estimated dimension, colour, and texture of typical meteor-bathe particles.

The Perseid bits have been shed way back by Comet Swift-Tuttle and are distributed all alongside the comet’s 133-year-lengthy orbit round the Sun. Earth passes via this tenuous “river of rubble” yearly in mid-August. The comet is so named as a result of it was independently found by Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell Tuttle in July 1862.


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The Perseid meteors seem to stream away from the bathe’s “radiant” level close to the border of Perseus and Cassiopeia. Click picture for bigger star-chart model. Also accessible in HD format. Here’s a video animation of simulated meteors on this scene.Sky & Telescope illustrationClick on the nonetheless above for an 18-second video animation of simulated meteors, displaying methods to find the radiant of the Perseid meteor bathe, and the way these “shooting stars” will seem in the sky.Sky & Telescope illustration The nuggets of Grape Nuts cereal are a superb proxy for the cometary mud grains that create meteor showers. Sky & TelescopePerseid meteor
A vivid Perseid meteor streaked down on August 7, 2010, over buildings at the Stellafane beginner astronomy conference in Springfield, Vermont. Sky & Telescope / Dennis di Cicco For skywatching data and astronomy information, go to or decide up Sky & Telescope journal, the important information to astronomy since 1941. Sky & Telescope and are revealed by the American Astronomical Society, together with SkyWatch (an annual information to the evening sky) in addition to books, star atlases, posters, prints, globes, apps, and different merchandise for astronomy lovers.

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