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Star Light Star Bright….. August 11, 2007

Posted by psmc in astronomy, Enviroment, Science, Uncategorized.
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During the next three weeks, we will be treated to, hopefully, two rather impressive meteor showers.

First are the Perseids. This is one of the two most prominent and dependable meteor showers of the year. This year the peak of the Perseids, Aug 12-13, corresponds to a New Moon. This means the moon will not interfere with the observing of any meteors since it wont be in the sky. The rate at which metewros are expected tofall will build over the weekend: 30 per hour on Saturday morning; 45 per hour on Sunday morning and 80 per hour on Monday morning.

Best results are in the dark skies after midnight. Don’ t be discouraged if you can’ t stay up past midnight. They will be observable all night long. The hourly rate won’t be as high as it is before midnight as it is after midnight. But it should be higher than a typical night. If you are clouded out on these nights, the Persieds are a meteor shower that persists for a week or so so you should be able to see some decent displays for the whole week.

The second meteor shower, however is not as dependable. It is called the Alpha Aurigids an will peak on September 1. This is a rather sporadic, ie unpredictable, meteor shower that has only made an three impressive showings in the last century, in 1935, 1986 and 1994. The scientist who has studied the comet from which these meteors come from has determined this should be a good year for them, in fact the best for the next 50 years. It is expected they will appear at a rate of 200 per hour and will be green in color.

It turns out the pre-dawn skies of North America on September 1st will be the best place to see them. So if you live in a place with dark skies, like rural Alabama or some such place, then you can expect a nice show on this night, as well as on the Aug 12-14.

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