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Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy’

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the arrival of the Perseids.   A couple of years ago, this meteor shower was accompanied by an alignment of Venus and Jupiter.  This year, a super moon will provide the backdrop.  Because the earth and moon will be at their closest, the moon will be 30% brighter than normal.  This may make the meteors a little harder to spot, but I will still be looking!  After all, if I don’t catch a few falling stars, I’ll still get to see a super moon.  Who’s with me?

No telescope is needed; just find a nice, safe spot away from the city lights, spray on some bug repellent, break out that blanket or lawn chair, kick back and enjoy!  While the shower’s peak is supposed to occur just before dawn on the 11th, 12th and 13th, I might try looking as the night falls, when the moon is still low in the sky.  Look to the constellation Perseus, which is just to the left of the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters constellation, in the northeastern portion of the sky.

Not sure you want to stay up until the wee hours of the morning?  Check out this time-lapse video of the Perseids filmed in Joshua Tree National Park in 2010.

 

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One of the most reliable and spectacular meteor showers, the Perseids, makes its appearance this weekend.   While stargazers may catch sight of a few falling stars earlier in the week, the showers will hit their peak from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. on the 12th.  The crescent moon rises shortly after 1 a.m., but its waning light shouldn’t affect your enjoyment of the show too much:  one of the best things about the Perseids is that it consistently produces lots of bright meteors.  If you have the staying power, shortly after 4 a.m. Venus and Jupiter will make their appearance, creating one of the best pre-dawn shows of 2012. Just look to either side of the moon; Venus will be to the left and Jupiter will be to the right.  No telescope is needed; just find a nice, safe spot away from the city lights, spray on some bug repellent, break out that blanket or lawn chair, kick back and enjoy!  If you’d care to join them, the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society will be stargazing at the Jefferson Township Park.

Fun Facts about the Perseids:

  • While named for the constellation Perseus, which is located in roughly the same point of the night sky the showers “emerge” from, the source of the showers is actually debris from the comet Swift-Tuttle.
  • Meteors may look like stars, but they are just grains of dust or pebbles left behind by comets. Many are no bigger than a walnut.
  • How does something the size of a walnut create such a brilliant streak of light across the sky?  It’s all a matter of speed.  Perseid meteors slam into our atmosphere at around 37 miles per second.

Not sure you want to stay up until the wee hours of the morning?  Check out this time-lapse video of the Perseids filmed in Joshua Tree National Park in 2010.

Further Reading:  Astronomy.com, Stardate.org, Meteors and How to Observe Them by Robert Lunsford, David Levy’s Guide to Observing Meteor Showers

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