Wednesday, 28 February 2024

The annual Perseids are coming

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A star chart of the annual Perseids meteor shower. Courtesy of NASA.


 

 


LAKE COUNTY – The arrival of August means it's once again time for the Perseid meteor shower.


Earth is entering a stream of dusty debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, the source of the annual Perseid meteor shower, and although the shower won't peak until Aug. 11 and 12, the show is already getting under way, according to NASA.


Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office says that although meteors are visible in the nighttime skies now.


“We're just in the outskirts of the debris stream now. If you go out at night and stare at the sky, you'll probably only see a few Perseids per hour,” he said, but this will change, however, as August unfolds, according to NASA.


The moon is currently waxing and will be full on Wednesday, Aug. 5, rising at 8:11 p.m. in Lake County, the Old Farmers' Almanac reports.


The full moon in August is called the Sturgeon Moon according to the Old Farmers' Almanac, because some Native American tribes knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon; others called it the Green Corn Moon or the Grain Moon.


"Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream sometime on August 12th," Cooke states in a recent NASA release, and dozens of meteors per hour can be viewed.


For sky watchers in Lake County, NASA recommends to begin watching after nightfall on Aug. 11 through sunrise on Aug. 12 for maximum viewing.


Veteran observers suggest unfolding a blanket on a flat patch of ground (NASA notes the middle of your street is not a good choice), and lie down and look up.


Perseids can appear in any part of the sky, their tails all pointing back to the shower's radiant in the constellation Perseus, NASA said.


There is one light you cannot escape on Aug. 12, according to NASA – that's the 55-percent gibbous moon which will brightly shine from the constellation Aries beside the meteor shower's radiant in Perseus. So avoid looking at the moon, as bright moonlight will ruin night vision and prevent you from viewing faint Perseids in that part of the sky.


With the dark nighttime skies in Lake County, there are many locations ideal for viewing this annual nighttime show – but even your backyard or out on a dock is better than most city-dwellers will find in a 50-mile radius of their home.


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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