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Celestial show coming to Earth!

August 10, 2012

A shower of space rocks is on its way to Earth.

If skies are clear, the annual Perseid Meteor Shower will be visible in the evening hours of August 11 to August 13. Historically, the Perseids create a magnificent astronomical light show of “shooting stars”  — streaks of light caused by dust particles ejected from the comet Swift-Tuttle as the Earth passes through the comet’s debris trail. The particles burn up and produce brilliant streams of light as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Perseid shower has been observed for roughly 200o years, and is visible each year, primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, between August 9 and 14, depending on the particular cometary stream location in a given year. This year, meteor rates are expected to be as high as 100 per hour, and are best viewed during the hours just before dawn.

This year, there will be an additional celestial gathering during the peak of the shower, at which time the  planets Jupiter and Venus, and the crescent Moon, will gather together in the Eastern sky in the hours before dawn.

Composite image of the Perseid meteor shower

Composite Perseids view on the night of Aug. 11, 2010, combined from 39 single station events over Chickamauga, Ga. (NASA/MSFC/D. Moser, NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office)

Perseid viewing

Region of Perseid Shower stream. The meteors will appear to come from the “radiant point” near the constellations Perseus and Cassiopeia. From 60 to 100 meteors may be spotted per hour (Used by permission of The University of Texas McDonald Observatory)

Click here for more information from NASA on the 2012 Perseid Meteor Shower.

Anyone with proper equipment and some patience can photograph a meteor shower.

Click here to learn about the equipment others have used to image these celestial showers.

Want to be a Citizen Scientist? Click here for an opportunity to help count meteors.

Just because you’re not on Earth doesn’t mean you can’t watch meteors. NASA astronaut Ron Garan took this photo of a Perseid meteor streaking through the Earth’s atmosphere on August 13, 2011, from the International Space Station:

Perseid meteor from the International Space Station

Perseid meteor viewed from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA/Ron Garan)

Happy Watching, Astronomy Lovers!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2012 4:49 pm

    Reblogged this on NC Museum of Natural Sciences Blogs and commented:

    By Rachel L. Smith

  2. August 10, 2012 7:38 pm

    good photo

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