Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Perseid Meteors: And you do NOT need a telescope!

If our night sky remains cloud free the annual August night sky show of Perseid meteors may be more dramatic than the photo above (courtesy of NASA and Pete Lawrence) of a 2009 Perseid meteor. The show of debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle should be excellent this year and you won't need a telescope to view. As a matter of fact using a telescope will ruin the show, for you need to see wide open sky, not be looked through a tube at one tiny area.  The trickle of meteors now flaming across the sky is rapidly increasing and could become a torrent of exciting viewing enjoyment between August 11th and 13th. Those days are critical for that is when our Planet Earth passes directly through the very heart of the comet's debris trail.  According to Dr. Tony Phillips at NASA Science News the very best viewing (if the night is cloudless) will be be during the hours of darkness just before dawn on Friday morning the 13th when the largest number of comet specks zip into our atmosophere creating briliant streaks of light as they approach speeds of 140,000 miles per hour! Try to find a place away from city lights with an unobstructed view and you are ready for a first rate show of 'shooting stars'. This week potential exceptional viewing is because the moon will not be up and out shining the comet debris that enters our atmosphere during the midnight to dawn hours of viewing - - neither will most of us. But  you better believe it I'll be outside on my rural lightless hillside, perhaps to the accompaniment of the rhythmic hoots of a great horned owl that sings his ballads to the lonely night and the chirping field crickets from his perch in the pines behind my weathered barn.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up! Hope I'll be able to catch the show!

August 12, 2010 at 7:48 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellant! I knew that this event occured sometime in August, but was not sure of the dates this year so, as usual, you have good information Johnathan. Provided the clouds decide to depart tonight (or very early tomorrow morning), I'll be outside checking it out as well!

August 12, 2010 at 8:11 AM 

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