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10 Aug 2007
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The Great Perseids Meteor Shower

Perseids photo courtesy NASA

The Perseids (PURR-see-idz) meteor shower is going on now and is expected to peak between Sunday August 12 and Tuesday August 14 when there will be about a hundred visible meteors per hour.

This year should be an especially good time to view the streaking lights in the night sky because we will be in a New Moon period when there will be no moon visible. The best places to view the meteors are in rural locations where there is little or no light pollution from cities. A place like Vermont for instance, with the added benefit of cleaner, clearer air, plus some high elevations if you would like.

According to NASA scientist Bill Cooke, "It's going to be a great show."

The place to start looking is in a north easterly direction starting around 9:00 pm on Sunday. This is when "Earthgrazer" meteors will be approaching from the horizon and hit a glancing blow (a "grazing" type of hit, thus the name) against the earth's atmosphere. The friction will light them up like a match striking sandpaper. Earthgrazers are slower and more colorful than other types of meteors but they are rarer too.

As the constellation Perseus climbs higher in the night sky, the frequency of the meteors will increase and, at its peak a little before dawn, you will see one or two per minute.

Enjoy the show whether you can make it to Vermont or not


Sky map of the constellation Perseus courtesy of NASA

(c) 2007 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus except the photo and map
 
Nature , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  18:02