Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Perseid Meteor Shower Tonight

Skygazers are preparing for another dazzling sky show, as the annual Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak. No special equipment is required to watch the shower, which occurs when Earth passes through a stream of dusty debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle. Astronomers are advised to lie on a blanket or a reclining chair to get the best view.

As the cometary "grit" from Swift-Tuttle strikes our atmosphere, it burns up, often creating streaks of light across the sky. The meteors appear to come from a point called a "radiant" in the constellation of Perseus - hence the name Perseid.

The late evening on 12 August through to the early hours of the 13 August is the best time to see the shower. The best time to watch is before dawn on Wednesday.

Astronomers say up to 100 meteors per hour are expected to streak across the sky during the shower's peak. But this year, light from the last quarter Moon will interfere significantly with the view. Astronomers say binoculars might help with viewing the spectacle, but will also restrict the view to a small part of the sky. The Perseids can appear in any part of the sky, but their tails all point back to the radiant in the constellation Perseus.


  1. I used to get to see a great night sky when I worked at 7000 ft in New Mexico in the middle of no where but her in Michigan not quite so nice.

  2. I'm British.

    When I was a kid there was a T.V series of "day of the triffids".

    Anyone my age who saw that, won't be watching meteors :)

  3. GAH! If only it was called Swift-Turtle! I'll be watching it tonight hopefully... If i don't forget

  4. I totally forgot about it last night, so tonight I'm definitely staying up. I'm in the suburbs, which have a good deal of light pollution, but I should get something.

    @Karitas: Triffids huh?

  5. GO AWAY CLOUDS!!! Britain sucks...

  6. Last Tuesday I was working on my mom's house in Gatesville, Texas when we heard an aerial boom. Gatesville is right near Fort Hood, which is a large military base and has a couple of practice ranges used by the Air Force (and Air National Guard) so we occasionally had a sonic boom when I was growing up from some jet jock. But according to the local paper, the authorities checked with air traffic control out of Waco and with the military and there was nothing overhead capable of making a sonic boom... Best guess is that it was a sonic boom from an inbound meteor during the Perseid shower.

  7. Holy cow, that's pretty crazy! Glad the mothership didn't cart you off...