Wandering through the realms of the cosmos, pondering its huge vastness

Perseid Meteor Shower and Planetary Grouping

A lot of Filipino amateur astronomers  including me :D are excited for this month’s sky display.

For Philippine observers, the annual Perseids Meteor Shower which often shows 50 meteors per hour will be observed with its peak on the late night of August 12-13. The Perseids appear to radiate out from the constellation Perseus, which is located in the eastern horizon during August.

View of the Northeastern sky on August 12 at 11:30 PM (via Stellarium)

2010 is a great year for the Perseids. This year, the slender waxing crescent moon will set at early evening, leaving a dark sky for this year’s Perseid show.

The Perseids tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into midnight, and typically produce the most meteors in the wee hours before dawn. These meteors are often bright and frequently leave persistent trains. The Perseid Meteor Shower is famous for its Earthgrazers –meteors that approach from the horizon and skim the atmosphere overhead like a stone skipping the surface of a pond. Earthgrazers are long, slow and colorful; they are among the most beautiful of meteors.

The source of the shower is Comet Swift-Tuttle. Although the comet is nowhere near Earth, the comet’s tail does intersect Earth’s orbit. We glide through it every year in August. Tiny bits of comet dust hit Earth’s atmosphere traveling 132,000 mph. At that speed, even a smidgen of dust makes a vivid streak of light–a meteor–when it disintegrates.

Friday the 13th will never be unlucky for sky observers on this night. Those who plan to watch the Perseids will also have the chance to see a beautiful planetary grouping before the radiant rise in the East.

Coincidentally, on August 13  at around 7pm the crescent Moon will join the groupings of Mars, Venus, Saturn and Mercury in the western horizon.

View of the western sky on August 13 at 7:00 PM

I can’t wait to watch these events :D Here is also a video trailer for the 2010 Perseid Meteor Shower by Meteorwatch and a sky update for August by NASA-JPL.

Happy observing and Clear Skies to all!

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source: PAGASA

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One response

  1. This a fabulous post and may be one that can be followed up to see how things go

    A neighbor sent this link the other day and I am eagerly awaiting your next write. Keep on on the excellent work.

    August 31, 2010 at 6:55 pm

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