Perseids Meteor Shower

12 August 2007
Posted by Chris Smith.

If you happen to look up tonight you ahould be in for some cosmic fireworks. It is the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower tonight and it is a new moon so the sky should be very dark so the meteors stand out really well, teh best conditions for the next 15 years in fact.

The Perseids are so called because they appear to be coming out of the constellation Perseus and occur at about this time most years. They are the dust and debris left from the comet Swift-Tuttle as it orbits the sun. The densest region of which that we are passing though tonight dates from 1862.

The perseid meteors are small lumps of dust or rock that hit the earth at 132 000mph. This means that they heat up immensely as they tear into the atmosphere, in a similar way to how your hands heat up when you rub them together.. They heat up to several thousand degrees celcius so hot that they glow white hot, creating a shooting star.

Although not as intense as tonight the perseids should carry on for the next couple of weeks, so find yourself somewhere away from the lights, lie down and look for the shooting stars.

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