Friday, August 9, 2013

Perseid Meteor Shower: Time for a Night Run Sunday or Monday

Well, it's August and again our planet has (literally) made another circle and is soon to intercept the cloud of galactic dust and crud that will produce the annual Perseid Meteor shower when the Earth passes through it.

So...here in the northeast, the 2 prime nights are Sunday into Monday and Monday into Tuesday.

Here's what Astronomy.com has to say about it:


If you ask most skygazers to name their favorite meteor shower, the odds are good that “Perseid” will be the first word out of their mouths. This annual shower seemingly has it all: It offers a consistently high rate of meteors year after year; it produces a higher percentage of bright ones than most other showers; it occurs in August when many people take summer vacation; and it happens at a time when nice weather and reasonable nighttime temperatures are common north of the equator. No other major shower can boast all four of these attributes.

And this year’s Perseid meteor shower promises one other significant advantage: It peaks under a Moon-free sky. From mid-northern latitudes, the waxing crescent Moon sets shortly after 10 p.m. local daylight time on the 11th. As always, you’ll see more meteors at a viewing site far from artificial lights.
 
If predictions hold viewers in North America should see up to 80 meteors per hour — still an average of more than one per minute — in the hour or two before twilight starts to break shortly after 4 a.m. local daylight time. If cloudy skies prevail on the 12th, look on the morning of the 13th, when rates will be somewhat lower but still impressive.

And from the same site, here's where to look in the sky.  That's Polaris--AKA the North Star--hanging at the 10:00 position.  So your general viewing orientation should be facing northeast.  The caption "Radiant" there in the center simply refers to the approximate location from which the meteors will appear to radiate from:

 
 
I have NEVER yet done this--but I am reminded that at my age there are only so many summers remaining to me--but I am sorely tempted to set my alarm for, say 2:00 am early Monday morning (provided it's clear) and go for a run. 
 
It could be magical, and who doesn't need a touch more magic in their lives?



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