PEOPLE SLEEP through the annual Perseid meteor shower in the Ramon Crater last August..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Perseid meteor shower – a cascade of “falling” or “shooting stars” consisting of dust particles pulled to Earth by its gravity that disintegrate in the atmosphere – will occur on Thursday night through Friday morning.
It will be more visible in places without many city lights, such as Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev, but will be visible elsewhere as well, according to the Science, Technology and Space Ministry.
You can expect to see at least one with the naked eye every few minutes.
In Mitzpe Ramon, special events will take place in the Spice Route Quarter of the city with telescopes and guided explanations as the city lights are turned off to provide the best viewing experience. In Timna Park, a giant mobile planetarium and “guided sky tours” will take place during the meteor shower.
The events are being held under the auspices of the ministry and its Israel Space Agency and in cooperation with the Israel Astronomical Association. The ministry says that meteors were formed with the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.
When meteors fall into the atmosphere and survive the friction and heat, they are meteorites, but there is little danger that they will cause damage to anyone. Some of the particles are no bigger than a grain of sand. The shower can be seen from mid-July each year, but the peak in activity occurs being between August 9 and 14.
The most important thing you need is darkness.
There are places where light pollution is high, as in the big cities, making the chance to catch a lot of shooting stars very small. As the moon is still small at this time of the month and the weather is clear, all you have to do is grab a quiet corner, sit back and enjoy the cosmic fireworks show; there is no need for binoculars or a telescope.
Astronomers say the meteors can be seen all across the sky, but because of the path of Swift-Tuttle’s orbit, Perseids are mostly visible in the northern hemisphere. As with all meteor showers, the falling rate is fastest before dawn, since the side of the Earth nearest to turning into the sun picks up more meteors as the Earth moves through space.
The parent comet, Swift-Tuttle, which last passed near the Earth in 24 years ago, leaves this cosmic dust in the Earth’s path. On entering the atmosphere, these particles heat the air around them, causing the characteristic streak of light seen from the ground. The meteors appear to originate from a single point in the constellation of Perseus.