Perfect for the Perseids – Sky & Telescope

Contacts:Diana Hannikainen, Observing Editor, Sky & Telescope+1 617-500-6793 x22100,

Rick Fienberg, Press Officer, American Astronomical Society+1 202-328-2010 x116,

Gary Seronik, Consulting Editor, Sky &

Note to Editors/Producers: This launch is accompanied by excessive-high quality graphics; see the finish of this launch for the photographs and hyperlinks to obtain.

The Perseid meteor bathe, a celestial occasion beloved by thousands and thousands of skywatchers round the world, is about to make its annual return to the evening sky. The bathe is predicted to succeed in its peak earlier than daybreak on Thursday, August 12th, although the show may placed on a positive present for an evening or two earlier than and after. Late on the evening of August 11−12, you would possibly see a Perseid each minute or so. This 12 months circumstances are as close to to excellent as may be: The waxing crescent Moon units round 10 p.m. native time, that means darkish, Moonless skies till daybreak.

Begin watching for meteors quickly after night twilight ends. By then the bathe’s radiant — its perspective level of origin in the constellation Perseus — has risen above the northeastern horizon. The few Perseids that seem this early can be spectacularly lengthy “earthgrazers” that skim alongside the high of the environment. The increased the radiant, the extra meteors you’ll see — so when Perseus climbs increased in the northeast, particularly after midnight, extra meteors will seem throughout the sky.

To take pleasure in the Perseids, you want no tools however your eyes; binoculars and telescopes present too small an space of sky to be helpful for meteor-watching. Find a darkish spot away from shiny lights with a large-open view throughout if attainable. “You’ll want to make yourself comfortable to fully enjoy the show — craning your neck for many hours can ruin your experience,” cautions Diana Hannikainen (pronounced HUHN-ih-KY-nen), Sky & Telescope’s Observing Editor. Bring a reclining garden chair or a floor fabric so you’ll be able to lie again. Bundle up in blankets or a sleeping bag, each for mosquito shielding and for heat; clear nights can develop surprisingly chilly even in August. Next, calm down, be affected person, and let your eyes adapt to the darkness.

“These ‘shooting stars’ can appear anywhere and everywhere in the sky — you don’t have to look toward the radiant to see them,” says Hannikainen. “So the best direction to watch is wherever your sky is darkest, usually straight up.” Faint Perseids seem as tiny, fast streaks. Occasional brighter ones would possibly sail throughout the sky for a number of seconds and depart a short prepare of glowing smoke.

When you see a meteor, hint its path again to its origin. If you finally come to the constellation Perseus , you’ve simply witnessed a Perseid. Occasionally you would possibly spot an outsider. The weaker Delta Aquariid and Kappa Cygnid showers are additionally energetic throughout Perseid season, and there are at all times just a few random, “sporadic” meteors too. All of those come from different components of the sky. It’s a enjoyable train to hint meteors again to their radiants: If the tracks don’t lead you to Perseus, they aren’t Perseids!

Any gentle air pollution or cloudiness will lower down the variety of meteors seen. But the brightest ones shine proper by gentle air pollution (although often not by clouds). In truth, a NASA evaluation of all-sky photographs taken from 2008 to 2013 reveals that the Perseids ship extra shiny meteors (people who outshine any star) than every other annual meteor bathe.

How and Why the Perseids Happen

Meteors are attributable to tiny, sandgrain- to pea-dimension bits of dusty particles placing the high of Earth’s environment roughly 80 miles (130 km) up. Each Perseid zips in at 37 miles per second, glowing because it burns to soot and creating a fast, white-sizzling streak of superheated air. The nuggets in Grape Nuts cereal are an in depth match to the estimated dimension, colour, and texture of typical meteor-bathe particles.

The Perseid bits have been shed way back by Comet Swift-Tuttle and are distributed all alongside the comet’s orbital path round the Sun. Earth passes by this tenuous “river of rubble” yearly in mid-August. The comet is so named as a result of it was independently found by Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell Tuttle in July 1862.

Read extra on this 12 months’s Perseids in the August 2021 concern of Sky & Telescope and on S&T’s web site: Fine Show Expected from the Perseid Meteor Shower.

Sky & Telescope is making the illustrations beneath obtainable to editors and producers. Permission is granted for nonexclusive use in print and broadcast media, so long as applicable credit (as famous) are included. Web publication should embrace a hyperlink to

The Perseid meteors seem to stream away from the bathe’s “radiant” level close to the border of Perseus and Cassiopeia. Click on the picture for bigger star-chart model. Also obtainable in HD format. Sky & Telescope illustration

Click on the nonetheless for an 18-second video animation of simulated meteors, exhibiting methods to find the radiant of the Perseid meteor bathe, and the way these “shooting stars” will seem in the sky.Sky & Telescope illustration

The nuggets of Grape Nuts cereal are a very good proxy for the cometary mud grains that create meteor showers. Sky & Telescope

For skywatching data and astronomy information, go to or decide up Sky & Telescope journal, the important information to astronomy since 1941. Sky & Telescope and are revealed by the American Astronomical Society, together with SkyWatch (an annual newbie’s information to the evening sky) in addition to books, star atlases, posters, prints, globes, apps, and different merchandise for astronomy fans.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is the main group {of professional} astronomers in North America. Its membership (approx. 8,000) additionally contains physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose analysis pursuits lie inside the broad spectrum of topics now comprising the astronomical sciences. The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to boost and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves by publishing, assembly group, science advocacy, training and outreach, and coaching {and professional} improvement.

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