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Space Science

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight 31

Posted by timothy
from the then-gets-suddenly-sleepy dept.
oxide7 writes "August's Perseid meteor shower has historically been providing the best opportunity for enthusiasts to catch meteor shows, but this year the Internet will let casual observers enjoy the show live online. The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years and are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun once every 133 years. Each year in August, the Earth passes through a cloud of the comet's debris. These bits of ice and dust — most more than 1,000 years old — burn up in the Earth's atmosphere."
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Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

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  • by rossdee (243626) on Friday August 12, 2011 @11:14PM (#37076808)

    a regular shower (rain, a little hail) and some thunder.

    And the forecast is for mostly cloudy, so I don't think I will be seeing any meteors

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      That's more exciting than what I could see. One moon, two TV towers, and an airplane heading west probably at 30K feet or so.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Yeah that never seems to fail, does it? Where I'm at we are getting back to back thunderboomers and now I know why. Every time there is something cool going on in the sky it might as well carry fine print that says "Except for those in the south, who will be getting rain, heavy cloud cover, anything to make sure you don't see squat".

      I think the last cool sky show I got to see was Halley's comet, everything since has been really great views of cloud cover.

  • Moon (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 12, 2011 @11:28PM (#37076864)

    The moon is going to be out and high in the sky tonight, drowning out most of the meteors. The best showers are when there's no moon out. This one is probably going to be pretty boring because of it, don't expect much.

    • While the best viewing would normally have been tonight or a few days around it, the Perseids hang around for a while, and you may be able to see occasional meteors for a while. I saw one just by chance last night, in spite of the moon, streetlights, the marine-layer haze in the Bay Area. You'll need more patience in a week, but the moon won't be as much of a problem.

      What's more frustrating has been not knowing if the auroras from the recent solar flares would be visible down here (which is very rare), an

      • by Anonymous Coward

        By the time the moon isn't an issue, it's going to be far enough off-peak that you'll be as (or more) likely to see a non-perseid than a perseid. Either a random, non-show meteor, or something related to the many other minor showers going on right now.

        As far as auroras go, no. If you look at the kp-index map [noaa.gov], you need a hella powerful (> 9 kp index) geomagnetic storm to see anything down there. The most recent big storm got up to 7 or 8 IIRC, and it only did that while it was still bright on this side of

      • The best dates were 9th and 10th August after 3am when there was no moon. I watched for a couple of hours and have seen around 10-20 Perseids. Two of them were very very bright and many also left a smoke trail :-) Not the "1/minute" rate but hey!
  • Question to the knowledgeable: Is there any chance at all of seeing anything from here [google.co.nz] in New Zealand?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You many not be able to watch it because of the full moon but you could always listen to it here-
    http://topaz.streamguys.tv/~spaceweather/ [streamguys.tv]

  • Even with the moon full, I was sitting in a hot tub outside tonight, staring up at the stars, and saw a ton of them, bright and easily visible.
  • I was parked in an empty field in North Dallas at about 4 AM and a large one came in from the north. As it traversed to the South just to the East of my location it broke up into several fragments that began to rotate about one another, it came to a stop and the fragments continued to 'orbit' one another for brief period before the light faded.

    I have seen plenty of meteorites break up but I have never heard of this type of thing before. Has anyone an explanation for this phenomena?

    • by jamesh (87723)

      When I was about 4 I saw something out the window that seemed to come down from the sky, hover for a bit while spinning in a spiral sort of fashion, then took off again. I seem to remember playing outside the night before watching the neighbors set off fireworks, and although I didn't connect it at the time that was probably it - an errant firework flew by the window and my imagination filled in the rest. The man in a black suit who spoke to me the next day explained that it was some swamp gas caught in a t

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Well, i peaked your mom tonight too. And the Internet let casual observers enjoy the show live online.

    Yawn...

  • Is somebody claiming that some of the cometary material is less than 1Ka (kilo-annum) old? I doubt that any of that material is younger than 3Ga [sciencedaily.com], and probably older than 5Ga. Perhaps they mean that the material was mostly dislodged from the comet over 1000 years ago. Fine, but that's not the age of the material, which is generally taken to mean the age at which the material came to be in its present state (vs. location).
  • I'm wondering something: How come this happens always at the same time of the year? That cloud of debris can't just sit still (relative to the sun), doesn't it rotate around, or fall into, the sun, as years pass by? That should make the phenomenon happen at a different time each year... From my understanding, ignoring gravity due to Earth and other planets, something sitting motionless at this distance of the sun would fall into the sun in a matter of months? Unless there's a huge trail going straight away
  • Observers are reporting a brief but intense peak between 10:00 and 15:00 UTC. Notable fireballs were seen. Here in the midwest, many locations were overcast. My radar scatter receiver recorded at least one large event every minute or so during that time, supporting other observations. There's always the Draconids in October and the Leonids in November. I think the 1,000 year old comment was either mis-quoted or misunderstood. Essentially the leftovers from the formation of the solar system, cometary ma

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