The scientists promise that this year some extra shooting stars will be offered to amateur astronomers, as the Perseid meteor shower will be enhanced by Jupiter’s gravity.
The Comet Swift-Tuttle, which produces the Perseids, will throw more material than usual towards Earth. It seems that Jupiter has influenced the debris stream, and the Earth is now just in the middle of it all. As our planet will move away from the source of the meteors, the number of falling stars will subsequently decrease.
There might be as many as three streams of shooting stars directed to our planet, resulting in a double number of Perseids. The astronomers estimated a rate of over 200 meteors each hour, which all could be seen in perfect conditions. Even if a person had not perfect light conditions, it would be impossible not to catch at least one of the 200.
“Here’s something to think about: The meteors you’ll see this year are from comet flybys that occurred hundreds if not thousands of years ago. And they’ve traveled billions of miles before their kamikaze runs into Earth’s atmosphere,” said Bill Cooke, leader of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office in Huntsville, Alabama.
The meteor shower was named after the Perseus constellation because the shooting stars seem to emanate from its direction. However, the meteors are caused by the Comet Swift-Tuttle, which goes around the sun every 133 years. The tiny particles left by the comet reach the Earth’s atmosphere and leave a trail of light as they burn up.
Most of the pieces of debris are as big as a grain of sand and travel through our atmosphere at speeds of 37 miles per second.
The nights of August 11th and 12th would be the best time to spot the show. The best way to do arrange it is in a dark area, waiting for up to 45 minutes for the eyes to adjust to the lack of light. The meteor light will increase each night until the arrival of the first rays of the sun.
It would be a good idea to watch the shooting stars before the full moon that will happen on the 18th of August, as the brightness of our natural satellite with diminishing the number of visible falling stars.
The Perseids will also be transmitted live by NASA through its Ustream account, starting with 10 PM EDT on the 11th and 12th of August.
Image Source: Flickr