8/13/10

Perseid Meteor Shower Lights The Sky


Spectacular Night Sky

The 2010 Perseid meteor shower lived up to its promise of a meteor per minute just before dawn today, providing an excellent celestial spectacle for people around the globe who had dark and clear skies.

The Perseid meteor shower is caused by ancient debris left by multiple orbits around the sun of the comet Swift-Tuttle. They name comes from the fact that the meteors appear to emanate from the constellation Perseus, which was high overhead just before dawn. The meteors all streaked away from that point of origin, called the radiant. A few non-Perseids, called sporadic meteors, were also observed on very different trajectories.

"I counted 20 Perseids in a 20-minute period starting at 4:10 a.m," said Robert Roy Britt, space.com editor in chief. "Most were faint, but two were as bright as Jupiter, leaving brief vapor trails that marked their path."

Jupiter presided over the annual event, hovering high in the southern sky as the brightest object in the early morning sky.

Britt observed the shooting stars from reasonably dark skies at the north edge of Phoenix. There were bursts of up to a half dozen meteors in a two-minute period and lulls that lasted up to four minutes, he said.

The Perseid shower is known for being reliable, and for the occasional bright fireball, or bolide -- an exploding meteor. Other observers reported fireballs in recent days. The Perseids began in late July, peaked last night and this morning, and will continue but tail off over the next several days.

If you missed the peak of the shower, late tonight into early Saturday morning offers another opportunity, experts say. While the number of meteors will drop off significantly, a patient observer with dark skies could see several meteors per hour in the predawn Saturday. Those in urban or suburban areas will see far fewer.

From space.com

How is you Friday the 13th? Have a great one!

Kaye

8 comments:

J.A. Saare said...

Hey Kaye ;)

So far so good. No mishaps yet!

Suzanne Jones said...

We stayed home today - just in case.

XX

Shelley Munro said...

How cool. It's been horrid weather here. We have no hope of seeing a thing.

Debs said...

We had glorious clear blue skies all day and thick cloud at night. So very disappointing, and I was really looking forward to this too.

Kaye Manro said...

I actually love the Perseid. I once wrote a story around this event.

Linda Banche said...

It was cloudy here that night. Just my luck

Lisa Lane said...

The Perseids mark the anniversary of my husband proposing to me, so they are my personal favorite of all the meteor showers (even though the best I ever saw was a 100+ meteor-per minute Leonid peak).

I was on the road during this year's Perseid shower--facing opposite the radiant--so I missed the show. I did catch a few nice stragglers on my trip home, however. ;-)

Cate Masters said...

Every year, I promise myself I'm going to stay up for these. It's been cloudy the past few years. Maybe next year!