Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Perseid meteor shower coming up

Starting tonight and peaking tomorrow night (before sunrise on August 13) the annual Perseid meteor shower will make its appearance. The meteor shower is visible every year in August and named after the constellation from which the meteors appears to come (Perseus).
On August the 10th we had a new moon, so the viewing conditions will be excellent for this shower.

 The meteors will appear to come from the marked location (radiant)
Image from

The meteor shower is caused by the Earth passing through a belt of dust and debris left by the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle as it makes its way around the Sun every 135 years or so. The tail you always see in images of comets is dust and gas which is being blown off the comet as the Sun heats it up as it comes closer. The dust then orbits the sun in a wide belt, which the Earth passes through every year in August.

The meteors mostly consists of tiny (less than 1 gram) particles which enter the Earth's atmosphere at 200000 km/h and burn up far above the surface (most burn up 80 km above the surface). So don't worry about getting hit by giant boulders ;-) We can expect as much as 100 meteors per hour.

That's it for now, I won't be seeing the shower myself as the north/northeast direction is blocked by a large building from my apartment. Maybe another time :)


Anonymous said...

What time is the best time to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower? Can we see it anywhere from the sky?

Anonymous said...

May I know what is the best time to see the Perseid Meteor Shower in Aarhus, Denmark? Thanks.

barmonger said...

In Denmark the best time is tonight (the night between Thursday 12th and Friday 13th August) after midnight and until the sun begins to rise again.
The optimal times is around 00:30 through to around 4 am Friday morning.

To find the shower, you should look for the constellation Perseus, which is located close to the well-known Cassiopeia constellation (the one shaped like a W) to the North-East.

You can read more about it here at

barmonger said...

But of course there are clouds everywhere so the shower will be hidden, unless the weather clears up over the night.