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Get ready for a heavenly spectacle: The Perseid Meteor Shower is already here

Added Fri, 04/08/2023
Дата публикации
Fri, 04/08/2023

The Perseid meteor shower, known in NASA as the "champion among fireballs," will dazzle stargazers around the world this weekend. Thanks to almost perfect conditions, this cosmic spectacle promises to become one of the most exciting meteor showers of the year. On the night of Saturday, August 12, to Sunday, August 13, the sky will be illuminated by up to 100 meteors per hour formed from Perseid meteoroids. The best time to observe is from 22:30 to 4:30 am local time.

Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Department, explains that this year's Perseid meteor shower is characterized by unique circumstances that will make it an unusual sight. Unlike last year, when the moon was full, this year the meteor shower will occur in the phase of a waning crescent, which will make it almost completely black. This means that the bright traces of the meteor shower will stand out against the dark sky.

Although the Perseid meteor shower can be observed from anywhere in the world, the two ideal locations recommended by expert astronomers are on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States. However, observers around the world will be able to enjoy this heavenly spectacle.

Perseid meteors are formed from the debris of comet 109/P Swift-Tuttle is a massive comet 16 miles wide that passed in 1992 in close proximity to Earth. Every August, the trajectory of the Earth's movement around the Sun passes through the remnants left by the comet during the 133 years of its orbit. The next significant appearance of comet Swift-Tuttle near the Earth will occur in 2126.

Compared to other comets that are much smaller, Comet Swift-Tuttle produces a large number of meteoroids, many of which are large enough to form fireballs. That is why the Perseid meteor shower is so exceptional. According to NASA, this year the speed of the meteor shower can reach 100 "shooting stars" per hour when observed from a dark place in the countryside.

To get the best experience, it is recommended to find a place away from city lights and other sources of light pollution. If fireballs can be observed from cities, then a greater number of weak Perseids are visible only from rural areas.

The Perseids, also known as the "Tears of St. Lawrence," are hurtling through the Earth's atmosphere at an astonishing 132,000 miles per hour, i.e. approximately 37 miles per second. Such an incredible speed leads to the fact that meteoroids ignite into bright streaks of flame due to the friction of heated air. The Perseids are known for taking the first place among all meteor showers in terms of the number of fireballs.

Despite their fiery appearance, the Perseids pose no threat to observers and all life on Earth. They almost always burn up in the atmosphere before reaching the surface of the planet.

The Royal Astronomical Society of Great Britain emphasizes that such meteor showers as the Perseids are best observed with the naked eye, and in order to enjoy their view, no special equipment is required.

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