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Excellent Prospects For August’s Perseid Meteors


The Perseid meteor shower, an annual celestial event beloved by millions of skywatchers around the world, returns to the night sky this week. And because the Moon will be just past new, no moonlight will hinder the view.

Sky & Telescope magazine predicts that the Perseid shower will be at or near its peak late on Sunday night (late on August 11th and early morning on the 12th) and on Monday night (August 12-13). “The nearly moonless sky this year means the viewing will be excellent,” notes Alan MacRobert, a senior editor at Sky & Telescope.

Although an occasional Perseid meteor might catch your attention shortly after evening twilight ends, the prime viewing hours are from about 11 p.m. or midnight (local time) until the first light of dawn. This is when the shower’s “radiant,” its perspective point of origin, is high up in your sky. The higher the radiant, the more meteors appear all over the sky.

Full Story: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/about/pressreleases/Excellent-Prospects-for-Perseid-Meteors-in-August-2013.html
Also: http://stardate.org/mediacenter/2013-perseids

Perseid Meteors In Their Prime


The Perseid meteors should put on the peak of their yearly display late this Saturday night and early Sunday morning (August 11-12, 2012). “December’s Geminids often outperform them by a bit,” says Alan MacRobert, a senior editor of Sky & Telescope magazine, “but the Perseids are probably the most-watched meteor shower, because they come in the warm vacation season.

Like all meteor showers, the Perseids are named for the constellation from which they appear to radiate. Perseus will hang low in the northeast early on the night of the 11th. The shower will really get underway after 11 or midnight local time, predicts Sky & Telescope, when from a dark site you may spot one or perhaps two Perseids a minute on average. The rate should increase as Perseus gains altitude in the early hours of the 12th. A thick waning crescent Moon will rise around 1 or 2 a.m., “but its glare at this phase will be no big problem,” says MacRobert.

Full Story: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/about/pressreleases/Perseid-Meteors-in-Their-Prime-165482256.html

Quadrantids Will Create Brief, Beautiful Show on Jan. 4

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/MEO/B. Cooke

The 2012 Quadrantids, a little-known meteor shower named after an extinct constellation, will present an excellent chance for hardy souls to start the year off with some late-night meteor watching.

Peaking in the wee morning hours of Jan. 4, the Quadrantids have a maximum rate of about 100 per hour, varying between 60-200. The waxing gibbous moon will set around 3 a.m. local time, leaving about two hours of excellent meteor observing before dawn. It’s a good thing, too, because unlike the more famous Perseid and Geminid meteor showers, the Quadrantids only last a few hours — it’s the morning of Jan. 4, or nothing.

Like the Geminids, the Quadrantids originate from an asteroid, called 2003 EH1. Dynamical studies suggest that this body could very well be a piece of a comet which broke apart several centuries ago, and that the meteors you will see before dawn on Jan. 4 are the small debris from this fragmentation. After hundreds of years orbiting the sun, they will enter our atmosphere at 90,000 mph, burning up 50 miles above Earth’s surface — a fiery end to a long journey!

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/watchtheskies/quadrantids_2012.html