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12-13 August 2019 – the Perseids

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The evening of Monday 12/13  August would be the peak of the Perseids, one of the crucial well-known prolific meteor showers

Meteors (also called taking pictures stars) are brilliant streaks of sunshine brought on by small lumps of rock or metallic known as meteoroids hitting the Earth’s environment at a really excessive velocity (within the case of the Perseids round 200,000 km/h). As they go by the environment they get heated up by friction to a temperature of hundreds of levels and begin to glow. This causes them to emit a streak of sunshine as they transfer by the environment. Most meteoroids get heated to such a excessive temperature that they vaporise and disappear from view. In truth, most meteoroids  are vaporised at an altitude of 50 km or greater.


Picture from Wikimedia Commons

If the meteoroid is giant sufficient, larger than 1 cm in diameter, a few of it may possibly survive the passage by the Earth’s environment and the half that hits the bottom is named a meteorite.

What causes the Perseids?

A comet known as Swift-Tuttle orbits the Solar each 133 years. Because it orbits, materials crumbles away from its floor. Over a protracted time period this shedded materials has shaped a large oval-shaped ring in the identical orbit because the comet.

Swift Tuttle Debris

On the identical time annually, the Earth passes by this ring of particles. When this occurs among the particles hit the Earth’s environment. That is what causes the Perseids meteor bathe. The particles ring is pretty vast and the Earth first crosses it in late July and takes till late August to get the opposite facet. The thickest a part of it’s encountered round 12-13 August and that is the date on which the Perseid bathe is at its most prolific.

When is the very best time to watch the Perseids?

The very best time of day to watch the Perseids, or in truth any meteor bathe, is simply earlier than daybreak. The diagram beneath exhibits the Earth passing by the particles cloud



The diagram exhibits the Earth rotating on its axis.

  • B signifies noon, when the Solar is highest within the sky,
  • D midnight
  • A dawn
  • C sundown.

Within the hours after midnight (D to A), an observer is on the facet of the Earth going through in the direction of the Earth’s course of journey, so there are way more meteoroids getting into the Earth’s environment. The time of day when probably the most meteoroids hit the earth is definitely at daybreak (A), however at the moment the brightness of the early morning sky makes them tough to see. The very best time to see meteors is due to this fact simply earlier than it begins getting gentle within the morning.

When you have the prospect to watch a meteor bathe over a interval of hours and even minutes, you’ll discover that in case you comply with the meteor trails backwards, all of them seem to originate from the identical place. That is significantly noticeable in case you take a protracted publicity . The purpose within the sky from the place the meteors seem to originate is known as the radiant.


Picture from Wikimedia Commons

The image above exhibits a protracted publicity of a meteor bathe. The radiant is marked with a small circle. The Perseids’ radiant lies within the constellation Perseus, which is instantly overhead round daybreak at a latitude of 60 levels North. My readers within the southern hemisphere gained’t have the ability to see them, however you’ve gotten your personal meteor showers invisible to these of us up right here!

Seeing the Perseids in 2019

The very best place to watch any meteor proven is properly away from gentle air pollution  within the early morning simply earlier than the sky begins getting gentle. In Manchester, the place I reside,  dawn on 13 August happens at 5:45 am and the very best time to see the Perseids would usually be about three hours earlier than this.  Nevertheless this 12 months the Moon is sort of full on the evening of 12/13 August and gained’t set till three:12 am.  When the Moon is above the horizon the sky isn’t as darkish. So finest time to see them will likely be a bit later.

When astronomers measure the power of a meteor bathe, they use a time period known as the Zenithal Hourly Price (ZHR). The ZHR is the utmost variety of meteors a naked-eye observer would see per hour if the sky have been utterly darkish, there have been no cloud cowl and the radiant have been instantly overhead.  The diagram beneath exhibits how the ZHR assorted with date for the Perseids in 2016.

perseids zhr

(McCure 2016)

Fingers crossed for clear skies on the evening of 12-13 August, but when we’re unfortunate, or in case you are from down underneath, right here’s a desk exhibiting among the different showers, though none are on common as prolific because the Perseids:

Meteor Showers


McClure, B (2016) Perseid outburst anticipated in 2016, Obtainable at:http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/everything-you-need-to-know-perseid-meteor-shower (Accessed: 25 July 2016)

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