Friday, August 10, 2012

Annual Perseid Meteor Shower

The annual Perseid meteor shower is coming on Saturday night, and I encourage you to view it. (Friday and Sunday nights should be okay, too, but not quite as good.) The shower peaks around 2-4am PDT on Sunday, August 12 (that is, Saturday night, August 11). Try to get as far away from city lights as possible. No binoculars or telescopes are needed; just view the sky with your unaided eyes from as dark a location as possible, away from city lights. Dress warmly, and bring a hot beverage if you wish. You can lie down on a blanket or a lawn chair, for comfort. Looking anywhere in the sky is fine, but views to the northeast should provide the most meteors.

There are many good references with viewing tips, etc. From

"If you ask most skygazers to name their favorite meteor shower, the odds are good that `Perseid' will be the first word out of their mouths. This annual shower seemingly has it all: It offers a consistently high rate of meteors year after year; it produces a higher percentage of bright ones than most other showers; it occurs in August when many people take summer vacation; and it happens at a time when nice weather and reasonable nighttime temperatures are common north of the equator. No other major shower can boast all four of these attributes.

 And this year’s Perseid meteor shower promises two other significant advantages. First, it occurs when the Moon is at a waning crescent phase, which means bright moonlight won’t diminish the number of visible meteors. And second, the shower peaks on a Saturday night, August 11/12, so most people can afford to sleep in or at least relax the following day... The crescent Moon, which rises shortly after 1 a.m., won’t have much impact because the shower consistently produces lots of bright meteors. Observers under clear dark skies likely will see 60 to 80 meteors per hour -— an average of at least one per minute —- in the hour or two before twilight starts to break shortly after 4 a.m. local daylight time. By then, the brilliant planets Venus and Jupiter will add to one of the finest predawn shows of 2012."

 Have fun, and I hope you have clear skies!

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