LINKS – The coronavirus thief has robbed Americans of much of their summer fun, but could not steal the annual Perseid meteor shower while building at its peak, when 50 to 75 shooting stars per hour can be seen in the skies over Connecticut.
Whether you will be able to see this dizzying show in the Earth’s celestial tent depends on the weather in your area during the August 11-13 peak shower. The National Weather Service says the sky over southern Connecticut will be cloudy during that time, with a 30 percent chance of rain. Conditions should be a little better in the other north you travel to Connecticut.
The hours between midnight and sunrise are the best time to scan the sky for the summer classic, which is known to produce fire. The moon is in its final fourth phase, and it will take the sky to show a little. But Perseids tend to be bright, so you should be able to see a fair number of them.
The brightest meteors are known as “fireballs”;, and they are at least as bright as the planets Jupiter or Venus. NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke says the Perseids produce more fireballs than any other meteor shower – to the extent that he dubbed them “fire champions.” During Perseids, it is not uncommon to see a fireball every few hours, Cooke says.
NASA research suggests that Perseids are rich in fireballs due to the size of the Swift / Tuttle core – about 16 miles (or 26 kilometers) in diameter.
“Most other comets are much smaller, with nuclei only a few miles away. As a result, Comet Swift-Tuttle produces a large number of meteors, many of which are large enough to produce fireballs,” he wrote. for NASA.
Although the view is best after midnight from anywhere in the sky, the evening hours can offer a special treatment known as an earthing. They are rare, but a sight to behold – a tall, slow, colorful meteor coming horizontally across the sky.
Peak dates are not the only time to see the Perseids, which have flowed into the sky since mid-July and will continue until August 24th. So consider looking for peak dates, and especially after August 17, when the moonless sky dominates, according to Earthsky.org.
The Delta Aquarid meteor shower continues through the middle of the month, so you can see some of them, too. Delta aquifers are not as fertile as the Perseids, but up to 10 percent of them leave continuous trains – that is, ionized gas trails that can last for a second or two after the meteorite has passed.
Dark skies are best for watching the meteor shower. In Connecticut, a good option is the Talcott Mountain Science Center at 324 Montevideo Road, Avon, on top of Talcott Mountain. Another great place to look at the sky in Nutmeg State is Burying Hill Beach, located on Burying Hill Road and Beachside Avenue in Westport.
Either way, the shower can be seen from anywhere in the sky, though Earthsky.org advises placing yourself under the moonlight near a barn or other structure. Meteors will be more visible.
The next thing required for successful meteor viewing is patience. NASA’s Cooke told Space.com’s meteor shower observation requires an investment in preparation and time, but is “the simplest form of astronomy out there.”
There is no need for telescopes or binoculars, which are actually disadvantageous because the more sky you are able to see, the greater the chance of seeing a meteor. Give yourself half an hour to 45 minutes to adjust to the dark sky. And, Cooke advises, do not look at your phone while you are waiting to see a shooting star.
“You know, this is something to observe the meteor: You let your eyes adjust to the darkness, and what kills [meteor viewing for] “most people nowadays is that they’re going to look at their phones, and that bright screen just destroys your night vision,” Cooke said.
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The Showerdo meteor shower has a radiant point where meteors appear to originate; with the Perseids, is the constellation Perseus. But the farther you go from it, the better the chances of seeing longer ribbons and fireballs.
Meteors are produced when the Earth passes through debris left behind by comets as it orbits the sun. Perseids are produced from dust by Comet 109P / Swift-Tuttle, which last entered our solar system in 1992 and will not return until July 2126.
There are no meteor showers in September, but autumn offers many opportunities to see shooting stars, especially during those from the Geminid meteor shower. The only thing the Perseids have on the Gemini is that they occur during the summer, when it is comfortable outside, but the December 7-17 shower is known to produce up to 120 colorful meteors at their peak.