Tuesday, 12 August 2008

tonights the night to watch the perseid meteor shower...

Always the summer’s main attraction for meteor observers, the Perseids are expected to peak around August 12d 09h UT, making the Monday night to Tuesday morning of Aug 11-12 probably the shower’s most productive in 2008. Good observed rates can be expected particularly in the early hours after the waxing gibbous Moon has set (around 23h 20m local time on Aug 11-12). Observers watching late on Aug 11-12 should experience increasing activity towards dawn: from a clear, dark location rates of a meteor per minute might be seen in the latter parts of the night as the shower radiant (near the Double Cluster on the Perseus/Cassiopeia border) climbs high into the eastern sky. Activity should be starting to decline by the time darkness falls on Aug 12-13. 03h 67.1o
The main part of the shower, including its steady rise through the first 9 days or so of August, will enjoy dark skies. Activity takes a marked ‘kick’ around August 8-9, and watches between this date and August 14-15, particularly, should be very rewarding.

The Perseids are well known for the abundance of fast, bright meteors close to their maximum. Perseid meteoroids enter the atmosphere at a velocity of 60 km/sec, and the resulting meteors often leave behind persistent ionisation trains.

The large numbers of bright events in the five-day interval centred on Perseid maximum makes this an excellent target for photography. Conventional film remains the medium of choice for most observers. Exposures, which can be with a static (undriven) camera, of 10-15 minutes’ duration, using ISO 400 film and a 50 mm or wideangle 28 mm lens at f/2.8 or faster, can capture meteors of magnitude 0 and brighter. Ideal aiming directions are about 20-30 degrees to one side of the radiant at 50 degrees altitude above the horizon - Cygnus in early evening, the Square of Pegasus later in the night, or towards the north celestial pole, for example


  1. I'm sure we watched this in Wales when camping a couple of summers ago. It was absolutely amazing, I had no idea it was a yearly occurrence. I'll be looking out (if the clouds ever clear!)
    Julia x

  2. Enjoying your blog - newly discovered (just by me I mean!).

    After living for 15 years in Chicago, I had forgotten about the Perseids. Happily surprised to see them while visiting my best friend in Indiana the weekend before they peaked. The stars were so clear and we could see the depths of the milky-way when the meteors were suddenly there - shooting across the sky. I wish I could make it a yearly event to see, but we now live in another city. Someday...


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