Perseid Meteor Shower is simply a Treat for Skywatchers

Perseid Meteor Shower is simply a Treat for Skywatchers

The annual Perseid Meteor Shower is just around the corner as NASA announces the peak of this amazing celestial artistry.

The term ‘Meteor Shower’ is associated with a celestial event where multiple meteors are observed to originate from one point in the night sky. The source of these showers is called meteoroids, which are essentially streams of cosmic debris. These showers are experienced when these meteoroids enter the atmosphere of the Earth on parallel trajectories and have incredibly high speeds. Generally, all of these meteors are extremely small and none of them manages to reach the surface of the Earth as they are disintegrated by the atmosphere of our planet. There are more than 100 meteor showers that are well established but Perseids and Leonids are the most popular ones among them.

Perseid Meteor Shower is considered the most visible of all. NASA keeps a good track of its activity and has developed a tool that can help you to determine the number of meteors per hour that can be seen from your location. Past observations have concluded that it peaks on 12th of August every year which offers a great opportunity for all the skywatchers around the world try to view this amazing show. Bill Cooke, a Meteor Expert at NASA, acknowledged that it is the most popular meteor shower of the year. He also mentioned that it will also be the best shower of 2018 with 60 to 70 meteors per hour. According to him, sky watchers can watch it on the nights of both 11th and 12th August. However, he indicated that the scenes will be much more spectacular on the night of 12th. Cooke explained the technicalities by saying,

This year the moon will be near new moon, it will be a crescent, which means it will set before the Perseid show gets underway after midnight. The moon is very favorable for the Perseids this year, and that’ll make the Perseids probably the best shower of 2018 for people who want to go out and view it.

All the dust and debris that produces Perseid meteor shower comes from the largest known object that passes by Earth again and again. It is known as ‘Comet Swift-Tuttle’ and has a nucleus width of about 26 kilometers. Its most recent meeting with Earth was recorded in 1992 when it orbited near our world. It is expected that the next time it will come near Earth will be in 2126. Having said that, no one will be able to forget this massive comet during these years due to the annual Perseid meteor shower.

Earth’s orbit is coinciding with the path of the Comet Swift-Tuttle from July 17th and will continue to do so till the 24th of August. However, the Earth will pass through the densest area on 12th August and that is the reason why the peak of these showers can be viewed during these dates. This means that you can get a glimpse of Perseid meteor showers even after the above-mentioned dates. The mid-southern latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere are declared as the ideal locations for viewing these meteor showers. All you need is a comfortable place to sit and wait as viewing these showers will require a significant amount of patience and darkness.

Cooke mentioned some guidelines that may help in locating the Perseid meteor showers. He explained that the key to their detection is to cover as much sky as possible. For this reason, you may have to travel to a countryside or a suburb and make an arrangement for sitting outside in the dark for a few hours. Scientifically, your eyes take 30 minutes to adjust to the dark and it continues to improve as you spend more and more time in darkness. The rate of 60-70 meteors per hour means that roughly a meteor will be observed every minute. Some of them might have faint streaks while others may look more like a fireball as they travel at 59 kilometers per second through space. So, all you need is a bug spray alongside some snacks and a comfortable couch to enjoy this celestial show.

Computer Scientist by qualification who loves to read, write, eat, and travel

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