In addition, one of the most spectacular meteor showers we will be able to see during this month is coming up after 12am tonight/tomorrow (August 11/12th)
It is called the Perseid Meteor Shower and it is surprisingly regular in its timing. What’s more is that the shower may be visible for weeks in the late summer sky depending on weather and location.
The Perseid Meteor Shower is named after the constellation Perseus, which is located in roughly the same point of the night sky where the Perseid Meteor Shower appears to originate from. Though useful, the name is actually quite a misnomer.
In actuality, the Perseid Meteor Shower is made up of debris from the comet, “Swift-Tuttle.” Every year, the earth passes through the debris cloud left by the comet, and it is at this specific time that the earth's atmosphere is bombarded by what is popularly known as "falling stars." Throughout Europe, the US, and the rest of North America, meteor shower activity usually peaks sometime around August 12th, when it is not unusual to see at least 60 meteors per hour streaking across the Northeast sky.
Though each of the meteors we see rocketing across the night sky may seem monumental, most are actually only tiny objects, usually no bigger than a grain of sand. However, these space specs travel at speeds of 71 kilometers per second, which is actually what makes the minute particles put on such a brilliant show year after year.
The best place to observe the Perseid Meteor Shower, which will be occurring after midnight tongiht and tomorrow, is somewhere dark, away from light pollution, and with the moon out of the field of vision. The less light visible, the more brilliant the meteor shower will be.
For more information on the Perseid Meteor Shower, as well as a list of other upcoming showers, visit NASA online at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-119.
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