The Perseid Meteor Shower

August 11, 2008 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Perseid Meteor Shower is usually one of the best meteor showers of the year.  And it peaks tonight and early Tuesday morning.  Here is an explanation from NASA:

“The source of the shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the comet is far away, currently located beyond the orbit of Uranus, a trail of debris from the comet stretches all the way back to Earth. Crossing the trail in August, Earth will be pelted by specks of comet dust hitting the atmosphere at 132,000 mph. At that speed, even a flimsy speck of dust makes a vivid streak of light when it disintegrates–a meteor! Because, Swift-Tuttle’s meteors streak out of the constellation Perseus, they are called “Perseids.”

This is what it looked like last year, from a vantage point in Joshua Tree National Park in the California desert. You can see a bright streak of a meteor, against the background of all of the stars in this time exposure.  (Photo courtesy of NASA)

But there is one big problem this year: clouds over north Texas.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am thrilled to get the welcome rain showers.  And the clouds held temperatures down to 95 Monday (after reaching 106 on Sunday).  But the timing could have been better.

If the clouds do break, then you will want to be outside between 2am and 6am, for the peak of this year’s Perseid Meteor Shower.  Just look up.  If the sky is clear, you can’t miss them, especially if you go out into the dark skies of the rural countryside.  But if the clouds remain, then we are all out of luck this year. 

Here is a link with much more information:

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/26377449.html

Chief Meteorologist David Finfrock

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