Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

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Martian
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Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Martian » Wed 11 Aug 2010 11:53

Source: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/sc ... _perseids/
Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

August 5, 2010: You know it's a good night when a beautiful alignment of planets is the second best thing that's going to happen.

Thursday, August 12th, is such a night.

The show begins at sundown when Venus, Saturn, Mars and the crescent Moon pop out of the western twilight in tight conjunction. All four heavenly objects will fit within a circle about 10 degrees in diameter, beaming together through the dusky colors of sunset. No telescope is required to enjoy this naked-eye event: sky map.

Image
A Perseid meteor photographed in Aug. 2009 by Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK. [more]

The planets will hang together in the western sky until 10 pm or so. When they leave, following the sun below the horizon, you should stay, because that is when the Perseid meteor shower begins. From 10 pm until dawn, meteors will flit across the starry sky in a display that's even more exciting than a planetary get-together.

The Perseid meteor shower is caused by debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every 133 years the huge comet swings through the inner solar system and leaves behind a trail of dust and gravel. When Earth passes through the debris, specks of comet-stuff hit the atmosphere at 140,000 mph and disintegrate in flashes of light. These meteors are called Perseids because they fly out of the constellation Perseus.

Swift-Tuttle's debris zone is so wide, Earth spends weeks inside it. Indeed, we are in the outskirts now, and sky watchers are already reporting a trickle of late-night Perseids. The trickle could turn into a torrent between August 11th and 13th when Earth passes through the heart of the debris trail.

2010 is a good year for Perseids because the Moon won't be up during the midnight-to-dawn hours of greatest activity. Lunar glare can wipe out a good meteor shower, but that won't be the case this time.

As Perseus rises and the night deepens, meteor rates will increase. For sheer numbers, the best time to look is during the darkest hours before dawn on Friday morning, Aug. 13th, when most observers will see dozens of Perseids per hour.

Image
Looking northeast around midnight on August 12th-13th. The red dot is the Perseid radiant. Although Perseid meteors can appear in any part of the sky, all of their tails will point back to the radiant.

For best results, get away from city lights. The darkness of the countryside multiplies the visible meteor rate 3- to 10-fold. A good dark sky will even improve the planetary alignment, allowing faint Mars and Saturn to make their full contribution to the display. Many families plan camping trips to coincide with the Perseids. The Milky Way arching over a mountain campground provides the perfect backdrop for a meteor shower.

Enjoy the show!

Author: Dr. Tony Phillips | Credit: Science@NASA

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Yvonne
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Re: Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Yvonne » Wed 11 Aug 2010 19:24

There may sometimes also fall large debris on earth or not?
Listen to all,
plucking a feather from every passing goose,
but follow no one absolutely

Claudia
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Re: Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Claudia » Wed 11 Aug 2010 20:04

Thanks for posting about these things Martian. It is a good reminder to those of us that have watched these meteor showers in the past, and to maybe get those that haven't yet to go outside and see what they have been missing.

Some years the show has been just incredible. Well worth getting up in the middle of the night for. I am looking forward to this year's event.

Cobwebby
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Re: Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Cobwebby » Wed 11 Aug 2010 21:21

Claudia- I had to chuckle when I read this-because when I first read Martian's post- I thought wistfully of the days, well, nights when we would get up in the middle of the night for such an adventure. I moved away from the city to relative country and have enjoyed a more beautiful view of the sky-night and day. But I have appreciated it more at night. Anyway- the apartment complex I moved into installed these incredibly bright runway lights-booooo hisssss- and now there is so much light pollution I can barely see the night sky.
But it is still fun to read about and imagine. I think I'm too lazy to get up these days/nights anyway!
Claudia wrote:Thanks for posting about these things Martian. It is a good reminder to those of us that have watched these meteor showers in the past, and to maybe get those that haven't yet to go outside and see what they have been missing.

Some years the show has been just incredible. Well worth getting up in the middle of the night for. I am looking forward to this year's event.
The greater part of our happiness or misery
depends on our dispositions,
and not on our circumstances.
Martha Washington

Martian
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Re: Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Martian » Wed 11 Aug 2010 22:07

Yvonne wrote:There may sometimes also fall large debris on earth or not?
Yes, small or large, then it's called a meteorite.

Cobwebby wrote:Anyway- the apartment complex I moved into installed these incredibly bright runway lights-booooo hisssss- and now there is so much light pollution I can barely see the night sky.
When I am in the back garden at night, there are no direct lights bothering me, in contrary to the front garden which is located at a public street with street lights turned on all night.

There is a LOT of light pollution in the Netherlands, but luckily I am living in a small village in one of the least light polluted areas in the Netherlands.

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Yvonne
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Re: Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Yvonne » Sat 14 Aug 2010 10:57

Martian wrote:
Yvonne wrote:There may sometimes also fall large debris on earth or not?

Yes, small or large, then it's called a meteorite.
Oh, that was a stupid question than :oops:

These large debris could be injure someone ? (or is this also a stupid question ? )

Has anyone of you have seen the meteor showers the past nights?
Listen to all,
plucking a feather from every passing goose,
but follow no one absolutely

Claudia
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Joined: Wed 14 Nov 2007 1:19
Location: Connecticut, USA

Re: Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Claudia » Sat 14 Aug 2010 14:28

Yvonne wrote:
Has anyone of you have seen the meteor showers the past nights?
We've had overcast and cloudy conditions, so this 'curtain' has blocked the sky show where I live this year. :(

How about where others live?

Cobwebby
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Re: Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Cobwebby » Sun 15 Aug 2010 0:13

Sorry- no feedback from me.
The greater part of our happiness or misery
depends on our dispositions,
and not on our circumstances.
Martha Washington

Claudia
Posts: 1448
Joined: Wed 14 Nov 2007 1:19
Location: Connecticut, USA

Re: Planets Align for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Post by Claudia » Sun 15 Aug 2010 2:45

I was told by my brother that last night was spectacular (he lives in the next town over. Last night I didn't stay up, thinking the best nights had passed). Tonight will be clear skies here, so I will report back.

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