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Skywatchers readying for cosmic light show from meteor showe

 
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THE DOCTOR ALT 8



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:11 pm    Post subject: Skywatchers readying for cosmic light show from meteor showe Reply with quote

by Staff Writers
Huntsville, Ala. (UPI) Aug 9, 2013


The imminent Perseid meteor shower, the brightest and showiest of such events, could bring a light show of as many as 70 shooting stars an hour, experts say.

Sunday night into early Monday and again Monday night into early Tuesday will be the best times to see the annual meteor shower, they said.

A cloud of comet dust annually brings this shower, among the brightest and most reliable for sky watchers.

"The Perseids are the good ones," meteorite expert Bill Cooke of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., told USA Today.

Bits of comet debris produce fireballs that can streak across a third of the sky, burning brightly because of the speed with which they hit the upper atmosphere -- nearly 134,000 mph.

"It's also because of the size of the meteors," Cooke said, as many of the dust grains are about one-fifth of an inch across and burn brilliantly in the night sky.

Those dust grains are shed in the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which circles the sun once every 133 years and leaves behind a debris trail the Earth passes through once a year in its orbit around the sun.

The best viewing opportunities will be from midnight to dawn, especially after the half-full moon sets late Sunday and Monday nights, Astronomy magazine's Michael Bakich said.

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THE DOCTOR ALT 8



Joined: 01 Aug 2004
Posts: 12473
Location: The Tardis, somewhere in the space/time continum

PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:57 pm    Post subject: Perseid meteoroids to produce great balls of fire Reply with quote

by Staff Writers
Paris, France (AFP) Aug 09, 2013


Stargazers will be treated to a spectacular fireball show early next week when Earth hits a belt of comet debris known as the Perseids, astronomers say.

The annual Perseid meteor shower, dubbed "the tears of St Lawrence" in honour of a martyred Christian saint, should peak in the wee hours of Monday and Tuesday with between 60 and 100 shooting stars per hour.

They will be visible over most of the world, but most clearly in the northern hemisphere, aided by an early-setting crescent Moon leaving a dark canvas for the celestial fireworks.

Cloudless skies permitting, the best viewing time will be the hours just before dawn on Monday and Tuesday, the head of US space agency NASA's meteoroid office, Bill Cooke, told AFP.

"Go outside, allow about 30-45 minutes for your eyes to dark adapt. Lie flat on your back (sleeping bag or lawn chair) and look straight up: take in as much of the sky as you can," he said by email.

"My experience is that most people who are disappointed viewing meteors go out for only a few minutes expecting to see something: this will work only for major outbursts not normal meteor showers. So be prepared to spend at least a couple of hours outside; don't expect to see many before midnight."

According to the European Space Agency, the Perseids are sand- to pea-sized bits of rocky debris ejected by the comet Swift-Tuttle, which is slowly disintegrating on its orbit around the Sun.

Over the centuries, its remains have spread along the comet's orbit to form a stream of particles hundreds of millions of kilometres long.

Earth's path around the Sun crosses the stream every mid-August.

The particles, called meteoroids, hit our planet's atmosphere at about 60 kilometres per second (37 miles per second) -- each igniting in a white-hot streak of superheated air.

According to Cooke, the Perseid showers produce more fireballs than any other.

They are named after the star constellation of Perseus from which they appear to spread out, and have been seen for about 2,000 years -- the earliest observations recorded in China.

St. Lawrence was an early Christian deacon tortured to death by the Romans in AD 258. His saint's day of August 10 coincides with the Perseids buildup.

According to legend, Laurentius was martyred on a iron grill over a fire, during which ordeal he is said to have quipped to his persecutors: "Turn me over. I'm done on this side!"

He is the patron saint of cooks.

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