August 12, 13 – Perseids Meteor Shower

By far, the best meteor shower of 2012 will be the Perseids meteor shower. What will make this particular shower stand out is the fact that there will be up to 60 meteors per hour on both August 12 and 13. After reaching this zenith, the shower begins to decline in number with the last Perseids meteor shower being witnessed on August 22. The sheer volume of meteors that will be seen is something spectacular to behold and promises not to disappoint.

What Are Perseids Meteors?
The Perseids radiates from the constellation Perseus and are among some of the most prolific in the night sky. The Perseids are associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. During it’s travels, the Swift-Tuttle comet swings through the inner part of the solar system, leaving behind large debris of gravel and dust.
When earth comes into contact with this debris, the dust and gravel hits the earth’s atmosphere in the process. As this debris ignites, it gives watchers the appearance of a flash of light moving rapidly through the sky. The Perseids meteor shower is the most intense meteor shower because the Swift-Tuttle debris zone is quite large so the earth spends quite some time in the debris.

Looking Back At History
The lure of the Perseids meteors have fascinated human beings for centuries. The earliest people to record on the activity of the Perseids were the Chinese back in 36 A.D. Early studies were generally conducted in the Far East with records indicating that the Japanese and the Koreans also investigated the Perseids from the eighth century through the twelfth century. However, hourly counts weren’t available until 1839 when E. Munster became the first astronomer to provide this type of tracking information.

How To Get The Best View
Although the quarter moon will be present, it will not present any major obstacles that might block the spectacle from being seen. The northern hemisphere will provide the best view for the Perseids. If you have sharp eyes, you will be able to track the meteor back to where it originated and you will end up in the constellation Perseus.
To have the best view, it is recommended that you move away from the glare of city lights. No requirement for special astronomical instruments is necessary in order to get the best view. Unfortunately, those living in the southern part of Africa won’t be as lucky since they are below the horizon. As with other meteor showers, it is advisable that you view the meteors after midnight. This is the time that the side of the earth is able to scoop up the largest quantity of meteors.

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