Perseid meteor shower’s heavenly fireworks due tonight

By
August 12, 2010 06:25

The annual shower will continue for hours after midnight.

1 minute read.



meteor shower [file]

Meteor Shower311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The annual shower of Perseid meteors falling at a rate of around one per minute is due to begin on Thursday night and will continue for hours after midnight.

As it is very difficult to see the heavenly fireworks in areas where there are many city lights, the best place to observe them is at Tel Aviv University’s observatory at Mitzpe Ramon, which will be open to the public from 7 p.m. Lectures and telescopes will be available.

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A meteor shower is a celestial event caused by streams of cosmic debris that are called meteoroids when they enter Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories. Most meteors are smaller than a grain of sand, so almost all of them disintegrate and never hit the Earth’s surface. Fragments that do survive impact are called meteorites.

Because the meteor particles travel in parallel paths and at the same speed, they seem to radiate from one point in the night sky. Meteor showers are usually named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to originate.

The Perseids result from debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet, which is the largestknown object to make repeated passes by the Earth. The annual show, which occurs annually on August 12, should provide a better viewing experience than last year because of the new lunar month, in which there is only a sliver of a moon; strong moonlight from a fuller moon blocked out the view of most of the meteoroids last time around.

The Swift-Tuttle comet was discovered independently in 1862 by Lewis Swift on July 16 and three days later by Horace Parnell Tuttle.


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