Perseid meteor shower may yield 80 ‘space rocks’ an hour

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - 15:11

Washington: Reports indicate that the Perseid meteor shower, which will be visible on August 11 and 12, would yield more than 80 meteors an hour streak across the sky during the best viewing time.

Meteors are bits of dust or rock that collide with Earth``s atmosphere and heat up gas particles to produce a glowing trail.

A handful of meteors can be seen each hour on any clear night, but during a meteor shower dozens may be visible.

The Perseid shower occurs each year when the Earth passes through a stream of debris shed by the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 130 years or so and last passed through the inner solar system in 1992.

The meteors generally get incinerated before they can strike the ground, creating the streaks of superheated, glowing air we call ‘shooting stars’.

According to a report in National Geographic News, this year, from any vantage point in the world, you might see more than 80 meteors an hour streak across the sky during the best viewing time, when the moon’s glare will be weakest—late night on August 11and into the wee hours of August 12, local cloud and lighting conditions permitting.

The highest concentration of Perseid meteors hitting Earth’s atmosphere will occur during the afternoon of August 12, when they’ll be largely invisible.

The Perseid sky show is “always the best annual meteor shower,” said Bill Cooke, the lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office in Alabama.

“Visually, the best are the Geminids. But December nights are cold, and people don’t want to freeze their rears off,” he added.

The Perseid meteors will appear to originate in the northeastern sky, near the constellation Perseus, and to shoot off in all directions, according to Brian Skiff, an astronomer at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

“Since the radiant point is close to Perseus, it is common to see them streaking right along the Milky Way, even as far away as Sagittarius,” he said.

“After midnight, Perseus will have risen higher in the sky, and the meteors can be seen in just about any direction,” he added.

ANI



First Published: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 - 15:11

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