Celestial fireworks show – Perseids Meteor Shower

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After the beautiful show of the Total Lunar Eclipse, sky is again ready with it’s next celestial show- Perseids meteor shower.
These meteor showers popularly known as “The Perseids” are of the best meteor shower of the year.

What causes Perseids meteor shower?

The Perseids are caused when the Earth passes annually through a stream of icy, rocky debris left behind by a comet known as 109P/Swift–Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years. Comet Swift-Tuttle is the largest object known to repeatedly pass by Earth, its nucleus is about 16 miles (26 kilometers) wide. It last passed nearby Earth during its orbit around the sun in 1992, and the next time will be in 2126.

As the comet travelled through the inner solar system, its outer icy layers were blown off as gas by the Sun and created a stream of debris. When the Earth plows into these, they burn up in our atmosphere to form the shower.

About Perseids 2018 – The shower had already began streaking across the skies from late July but will peak on the nights of August 11- 12 and August 12- 13. The rate will go upto as high as 60 to 70 meteors per hour during its peak.

The Perseids meteor shower is often considered to be one of the best meteor showers of the year due to its high rates and pleasant late-summer temperatures. This year’s shower peak, however, has the added bonus of dark skies, reason being the New Moon on the night of August 11-12 and early setting crescent moon at night of August 12-13.

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Radiant of Perseids- All meteors associated with one particular shower have similar orbits, and they all appear to come from the same place in the sky, called the Radiant. Meteor showers take their name from the location of the radiant. The radiant for Perseids meteor shower is in the constellation Perseus.

How to observe Perseids- If it’s not cloudy, pick an observing spot away from bright lights, lay on your back, and look up! You don’t need any special equipment to view the Perseids – just your eyes.

So, if you will combine these ideal observing conditions and high rates (an average of 60 meteors per hour at the peak) with the fact that the best nights for viewing as August 11 to 12 and August 12 to 13, then it can become a perfect weekend celestial treat to enjoy for.

By,
Yogesh Kumar Joshi,
SPACE Educator

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