August Meteor Shower – The Perseids have come ’round again!

by Pat Browne

This year’s Perseid Meteor shower has started to display ‘shooting stars’; although the peak of the shower (when counts are highest) actually occurs early morning Sunday August 11. It is that time again, when the Earth’s orbit comes ’round to intersect with the debris of a periodic comet – the debris takes the form of a ‘meteor shower’.

  • The reason for this is the lack of moonlight in our night sky, as the phase of the moon is ‘New Moon’. The ‘New Moon’  rises and sets with the Sun; so it is out of the way of our viewing the faint shimmers of light.
  •   To observe the Perseids in Mississippi Mills, thanks to our Preservation of our Night Sky, Night Sky Preservation in Mississippi Mills, you can dim or extinguish unnecessary outdoor lighting, and observe anywhere that is comfortable for you.
  • Meteors appear to enter the atmosphere from any direction although the radiant (where the particles appear to stream from) is in the constellation Perseus. At midnight, it is toward your eastern horizon. (Image courtesy Stellarium)
  • An explanation of what you are seeing is given below. So sit back, keep the lights down, and if you feel like doing a little bit of science,  record how  many you see  as an hourly rate. You should see an increase in the count around midnight.
    Radiant of the Perseid Meteor Shower
    Radiant of the Perseid Meteor Shower
    pierresMeteorShower
    This image was taken by our local Ottawa astronomer and  meteor expert , Pierre Martin.

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