Get with some friends or family and look up in the sky! An amazing meteor shower is about to occur! This is certainly something you will not want to miss.
The Perseid meteor shower will be viewable best between Thursday August 12 and Friday August 13, specifically between 1 and 2 in the morning on the former date.
Every year in the later part of July and in the early part August, Earth passes through several small comet debris streams (this poses no harm to us, so no need to panic). But where does the debris come from that causes this wonderful meteor shower to happen?
In 1862, comet Swift-Tuttle was discovered. It passes through the solar system about every 130 years and a road of debris is left behind. In case you’re wondering about the name “Perseid,” it comes from the Perseus constellation, where the shooting stars look like they originate from.
The meteors from Perseid come through our atmosphere at over 140,000 miles per hour. Most of the shower seen is 5000 years old.
So what exactly are meteors?
Meteors, also known as shooting stars, that we see are small fragments of comets. Comets are composed of frozen ice and rock. While when traveling through the atmosphere meteors may appear large, they are actually smaller than one may think. In fact, they are often about as big as a single grain of sand, or maybe a little bit larger. The reason they are so noticeable is because of their intense speed, causing them to give off large levels of light.
This year’s shower
Viewing conditions are particularly good for 2010 and some sightings have already been reported. There is a new moon that will be only a thin crescent. So unlike last year’s shower which was ruined from the moon’s bright light, there is no fear of that for the upcoming shooting star show.
This year, NASA says one meteor may be seen every minute.
Also, a rare event is going to occur. As an additional prize, Venus, Mars, and Saturn will shine brightly and will be especially visible in the southwest right as darkness begins. This will go on through the first half of August. On August 12, the thin moon will be under the planets. On the 13th, it will be to the left.
Get ready to make some wishes!
So how should we prepare for and watch this meteor shower?
Well this is certainly an exciting experience, although meteor showers are never dull events. With conditions as great as they are this year, this is definitely something you should take time to see.
If you can, get out of the city. If an option, go to a small town or maybe even go camping. Aside from being able to view a spectacular meteor shower, small vacations are great family events. But it’s important to stay free of city lights.
Make sure you get enough sleep so you can watch the shower late at night and early in the morning. If you need to, take a nap. Just make sure you don’t sleep so long you miss the shower!
And when watching, bring some lawn chairs for you and your family or friends, and maybe even a sleeping bag if you’re spending the night outside. Additional blankets may also be a good idea so you don’t get too cold. For safety, bring a flashlight; just don’t use it during the meteor shower.
And remember, the darker the place you are outside, the better you’ll see the meteors.
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