Perseid meteors could see 'surge in activity' on Aug. 11-12
Friday, Aug. 12, sees the annual maximum of the Perseid meteor shower. This year, as well as the normal peak on the night of Aug. 12-13, meteor scientists are predicting additional enhanced activity in the shower the night before, as Earth passes through a dense clump of cometary debris.
|A Perseid shooting star near the Pleiades over Woodingdean, Sussex, on the early morning of Aug. 13, 2013|
[Credit: Darren Baskill]
Russian astronomer Mikhail Maslov and Finnish astronomer Esko Lyytinen predict that this year Earth will pass through a stream of cometary material shifted towards us by Jupiter's gravitational field. According to their model, and work by French scientist Jeremie Vaubaillon, we could see a steep rise in activity from late evening on 11 August to 0500 BST on 12 August.
Perseid seen in August 2010 above the four enclosures of the European
Southern Observatory's |
Very Large Telescope at Paranal, Chile [Credit: ESO/S. Guisard]
Professor Mark Bailey, Director Emeritus of Armagh Observatory, said "The Perseid meteor shower is one of the best and most reliable meteor showers of the year, and the predictions of a surge in activity this year make it particularly exciting this time. If you're lucky enough to have a clear sky early in the morning on 12 August, I'd definitely get up to take a look."
Dr David Asher, also at Armagh Observatory, continued, "If you're clouded out on the morning of the 12 August, you still have a chance to see the normal maximum the next night."
Unlike many celestial events, meteor showers are straightforward to watch, and for most people the best equipment to use is simply the naked eye. Advice from experienced meteor observers is to wrap up well and set up a reclining chair to allow you to look up at the sky in comfort. If possible it also helps to be in a dark place away from artificial light, and to have an unobstructed view of the sky.
image of a Perseid seen from above, made by astronaut Ron Garan from
the International Space Station |
in August 2011 [Credit: Ron Garan/ISS Expedition 28 Crew/NASA]
Source: Royal Astronomical Society [August 09, 2016]