August 11th, 2009

meteor

Astro-Image of the (month): Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight!

Maybe you've noticed some meteors over the past week or two: That'd be from the Perseids. Starting tonight and running for a couple of days, though, we'll be hitting the densest part of the meteor swarm, during which time you could see jems like this:

Click the image to see the story.

So get thee to a dark place and lie down with some friends! (Not like that! Well, like that would be okay, too, but try to look up once in a while.) Here's where you should look at about midnight:

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Late nights are always best for meteor showers, because the Earth's atmosphere is like a car's windshield: It hits more junk facing into its orbital path (like a windshield) than on the sides or rear. Expect to see dozens per hour (though the dimmer ones are only visible when it's very dark).

The best time will be about 3:00am Central Time (1:00am Pacific) tomorrow. That's when Earth will whip through a super-dense dust path from the Perseids' parent comet (Swift-Tuttle). For about an hour, you will see as many as 200 meteors per hour! The gibbous Moon will interfere a bit, but - dude! - 200 an hour!

So get out there tonight and tomorrow and enjoy the storm! And I wanna see photos ;-)

Chris