Saturday, August 11, 2012

Perseid Meteor Shower Tonight


Over the next few nights, the sky will put on a show for us.  The Perseid Meteor shower will be visible for the next couple of days, peaking tonight and tomorrow.  The Perseids have been visible for nearly 2000 years.  They are apparently the result of a debris field that is left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet that travels around the Sun in a 130 year orbit.  Every year, around this time, the Earth's orbit passes through the dust left behind by the comet.  In the same way that you collect bugs on your windshield as you travel through a swarm of mosquitos, any of the particles that we actually hit become meteorites that we can see as they shot through the sky.
If you go out tonight, expect the most meteors, over 50 per hour, sometime after midnight.  You don't need any special equipment, just your eyes and a good dark place to look at the sky.  Be sure to give yourself some time so that your eyes adjust to the darkness.  If you stay up late enough, in the morning, you will see the crescent moon near the planets Venus and Jupiter in the sky to the east just before sunrise.

Read more information here.

Happy Viewing!