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Get the Best Seat to View the Perseid Meteror Shower

This post was written by Anna
on August 12, 2010 | Comments (1)

The Perseid meteor shower can be viewed this year in the early morning hours of Friday, August 13. Observed for about two thousand years, the Perseid meteor shower is associated the comet Swift-Tuttle; the point they appear to come from (radiant) is in the constellation Perseus (hence the name Perseids). The Perseids peak in late July and early August, and can be seen across the sky (but the path of Swift-Tuttle’s orbit makes them more visible in the Northern Hemisphere).

So, how can you get the best seat in the house to watch this spectacular sight? Your best bet to view the shower, which generally produces between 50-75 meteors an hour (in the Northern Hemisphere; Southern Hemisphere watchers will likely be limited to about 30-40 events an hour), is to get away from light pollution. If you are not fortunate enough to live in a rural area, this will mean some travel. Perseus should be high enough in the sky at around midnight for viewing of the shower; it will continue throughout the night.

There are also two things that will benefit sky watchers: one, the shower is peaking shortly after a New Moon (the New Moon in Leo on August 9), which means that there is less light in the night sky competing  for your attention, and two, the Earth will be passing through a denser patch of comet Swift-Tuttle’s dust sream.

Visit NASA’s “Fluxtimator” to get an idea of how the Perseids (and many other meteor showers, for that matter) could potentially appear in your area. Simply select the meteor shower (in this case, the Perseids), the closest city, and date, and you will be given tailored information about the shower viewing in your area.

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