Celestial treat for sky gazers tomorrow

Last Updated: Thursday, August 12, 2010 - 12:57

New Delhi: A celestial treat is in store for star-gazers who can look forward to fireworks in the skies in the form of Perseids meteor shower Friday night.

Perseids, a prolific meteor shower is associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, said Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) Director C B Devgun.

"Around 11.30 PM to 2 AM one can expect a Zenithal Hour Rate (ZHR) of about 100-120 meteor per hour," said N Sri Raghunandan Kumar from Planetary Society of India.

Thus, one can expect one meteor in every two minute, he added.

To watch the meteor shower, one should concentrate towards the northeastern sky as the shooting stars, as they are also called, will be more visible in the direction, Kumar
said.

The earth is expected to pass through a denser-than-usual filament of dust from Perseid?s parent comet Swift-Tuttle, Devgun said.

The meteor is named Perseids because the point it appears to come from, lies in the constellation Perseus.

He said the meteors can be seen all across the sky, but because of the path of Swift-Tuttle?s orbit, Perseids is primarily visible in the northern hemisphere.

Astronomers have been observing Perseid meteor shower for about last 2,000 years, with the first known information coming from the Far East, Devgun said.
In early medieval Europe, the Perseids came to be known as the "tears of St. Lawrence." In 1839, Eduard Heis was the first observer to take a meteor count and discovered that the Perseids had a maximum rate of around 160 per hour.

Meteors are also called "shooting stars," startling streaks of light that suddenly appear in the sky when a dust particle from the outer space evaporates high in the earth`s atmosphere.
"To watch the meteor shower go to an area where pollution is at its minimum. The best time would be around midnight, by then Perseus constellation will be fairly high above the horizon. The hour or two before dawn will be best of all," Devgun advised sky-gazers.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, August 12, 2010 - 12:57

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